EMOTION poured out of Lee Smith as poignant guilty verdicts were returned for the abuse perpetrated against killed pal Billy Seymour who died before Bob Higgin’s retrial.
Holding a photo of the pair at a city pub, Lee kissed the screen as Higgins was convicted of abusing Billy as a young boy.
The former Southampton youth player was killed by a drink-driver on January 3 in Oxfordshire.
Supportive Lee and Billy had spoken for the first time in decades when the abuse scandal grew - and were part of the network that supported each other.
Lee said: ‘As it got to his (charges) 26-30 I picked it up and gave it a kiss. We felt Billy was with us in there – the whole trial. I hope and pray to God that he is haunting Higgins wherever he is – that will give me satisfaction.’
He added: ‘Listening to his evidence that man went through hell - and so did everybody else.
‘I was very close to Billy. He was just getting his life sorted, it’s tragic what happened.
‘But I’m glad that he got all his five convictions. I spoke to him the night before [he died], he had just found a partner.
‘He told me he was happy for once in his life, and I believe he went back and was clearing his flat out and moving in with his partner - but no-one could see what was going to come next.
‘Then we got the call.’
The driver responsible for Billy’s death was jailed for seven and a half years.
Call Portsmouth Area Rape Crisis Service’s men’s helpline on (023) 9266 9516 or the office on (023) 9266 9513.