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Former Southampton FC youth coach jailed for 24 years for non-recent sex abuse of boys

Bob Higgins has been sentenced after being found guilty of abusing young boys who crossed his path while he was coaching at Southampton Football Club and Peterborough United between 1971 and 1996.

The 66 year-old was famous for spotting and nurturing a number of talented players who went on to achieve significant success in the game, both nationally and internationally.

The ex-youth football coach was sentenced to 24 years and 3 months in prison at Winchester Crown Court on Wednesday 12th June 2019.

Higgins was convicted of 45 offences following a trial by jury at Bournemouth Crown Court on Thursday 23rd May 2019.

He'd already been convicted of indecently assaulting another boy at a previous trial which began in May 2018.

Claire Booth from the Crown Prosecution Service said: "Many young boys dream of becoming a footballer and training for a prestigious team.

"Bob Higgins preyed on and abused young boys, some of who adored him, and in doing so tainted and shattered the dreams of many.

"Being scouted by such a talented renowned coach was not something you would have turned down.

"Sadly it meant some had to grow up with his terrible secret, which for some was all-consuming."

The jury at Bournemouth Crown Court heard how Higgins used his notoriety and the power that came with his coaching role to gain their trust as well as exploiting the trust of their parents.

When some of the boys challenged Higgins he told them that if they spoke up, no one would believe them and their future would be in jeopardy.

The CPS say they were able to present evidence of how some of the victims, now adults, have been affected by Bob Higgins' criminal behaviour.

One victim, Billy Seymour, tragically died before this prosecution but whose evidence was still used in this trial.

Claire Booth added: "We would like to thank all the victims who came forward and who had the courage to face Bob Higgins, as well as their families and all the witnesses.

"We now hope that with this sentence all of the victims in this case will be able to find some closure."

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