The detective who led the inquiry into paedophile Bob Higgins says that the once-repected coach abused his victims’ trust in ‘the most despicable manner’.
Det Chief Insp Dave Brown was speaking outside WInchester Crown Court after Higgins was sentenced to 24 years and three months in prison for abusing youth team players.
The trial was told he was seen as all-powerful at Southampton, and Peterborough, where he worked, as he had the power to get youngsters contracts and apprenticeships.
Det Chief Insp Brown paid tribute to the bravery of the individuals – such as Lee Smith from Portsmouth – who had given evidence in the case and said that the sentence showed that society would not tolerate abuse such as this.
He said: ‘Throughout this sentencing we’ve had some very emotional accounts from some very brave and courageous, although they deny it, individuals who have suffered at the hands of predatory sexual offender Bob Higgins.
‘Bob Higgins was a trusted football coach, he held a position of authority and he abused that in the most despicable manner for his own sexual gratification.
‘There can be no understanding of the damage that that individual has caused to the lives of the people who stood with us through this criminal procedure, to give evidence to secure the conviction.
‘(This) sentence really will show to society just how seriously we take this type of offending and it is really testament to the bravery of those individuals who have come forward and given the evidence.’
Answering questions from reporters, he added: ‘We have had a number of people come forward and I would hope this sentence reinforces that we do take these type of offences seriously and we will listen to people should they come forward and we will assist them in any future process if they feel the time is right now to make these types of disclosures.’