A paedophile former football coach was today smiling and joking just minutes before he was jailed for more than 24 years for sexually abusing 24 young trainees.
Bob Higgins was found guilty of 45 counts of indecent assault, carried out on trainees at Southampton FC and Peterborough United, between 1971 and 1996 according to dailymail.co.uk.
Bournemouth Crown Court heard his status as a ‘God-like’ figure enabled his campaign of abuse that took place over 25 years.
Waiting for his sentencing hearing to start today at Winchester Crown Court, Hants, Higgins sat smiling and joking with a dock security officer, covering his mouth.
Yesterday victims lined up to describe a ‘conveyor belt of abuse’ at the hands of ‘pure evil’ Higgins.
They fought back tears as they spoke of having suffered shame, guilt and depression for decades as well as suicidal thoughts and having difficulties forming relationships, and each received applause from the public gallery.
The 66-year-old was found guilty last year of one count of indecent assault, and a further 45 at a retrial.
Higgins was convicted of groping his victims during post-exercise soapy massages as well as at his home and in his car.
Former international stars Matt Le Tissier, Dennis Wise, Alan Shearer and Danny Wallace were among those trained by the coach during his time at Southampton.
There was no accusation any suffered abuse at the hands of the coach.
Today, Judge Peter Crabtree told Higgins that he knew he ‘held the key’ to the children’s professional footballing dreams and asserted his ‘power and control’ to fulfil his sexual desires.
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