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On 23rd May 2019, Bob Higgins, 66 years old was produced before Bournemouth Crown Court accused of 51 offences of sexual abuse against boys between 1971 and 1996.
The jury deliberated for 41 hours and found Higgins guilty of 45 counts of indecent assault on 23 boys. He was cleared of five counts and a verdict could not be reached on one count.
Higgins’ career spanned 25 years, coaching at Southampton FC and Peterborough United, where he had direct access to hundreds of aspiring youth footballers, where he could manipulate and exploit their vulnerabilities.
Complaints were made about Higgins over 30 years ago, when in 1992 he was acquitted of six charges of indecent assault between 1985 and 1989.
In 1997, Hampshire Police and social services in the area dispatched a warning letter about Higgins to local schools and youth groups saying:
“The above named has come to the attention of our departments and Hampshire Constabulary as a football coach in the area. We would strongly urge you to contact us if approached by him in either recruiting young players or in using your facilities.”
However, Higgins remained working for football clubs until 2016.
The figures of abuse inflicted by Higgins include:
Over 100 former school boy players have disclosed being abused by Higgins.
Reports were received from boys as young as 11 years old.
Police believe that there are many more victims of Higgins, still yet to come forward.
Higgins worked at Peterborough with another coach, Kit Carson, who was also accused of sexual abuse.
DCI Dave Brown was the Senior Investigating Officer at Hampshire police and he said: “Higgins was a great coach. The boys would do anything for him and he exploited that position. He identified vulnerabilities of the boys he coached and used his position to groom them so he could fulfil his own sexual needs. Boys worshipped Higgins as a father figure. He was clever and manipulative, a typical predatory paedophile.”
Claire Booth, who works for 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 something no boy would have turned down.”
Higgins has been remanded in custody, where he will remain until he is sentenced at a later date at Winchester Crown Court.
Our Abuse team led by Natalie Marrison will work sensitively with you to access compensation following sexual abuse and violence suffered as a child. For a completely confidential discussion please contact the Ramsdens Abuse team on 0113 8871 834.