‘PURE EVIL’ paedophile youth coach Bob Higgins has been jailed for 24 years and three months.
Bob Higgins, 66, from Southampton, was last month found guilty of 45 charges of indecent assault at his retrial. Last year he was convicted of a single charge of indecent assault.
Many of the 24 victims yesterday told Winchester Crown Court of the destruction his abuse caused in their lives following the abuse carried out between 1971 to 1996.
Among them is Lee Smith, 46, from Portsmouth, who trained with Higgins as a youngster at Southampton. He was 13 when he was abused by Higgins.
Higgins had ‘grabbed and crunched’ his genitals during heading drills as he ‘came to jump above’ the defendant,’ the court heard.
Judge Peter Dixon Crabtree said: ‘He fell to the floor. You told him to “get up Smithy you puff”. He did. He he got up, sat out and got out the session. He did not return.’
Bearded Higgins remained emotionless in the dock as judge Peter Dixon Crabtree jailed him for 24 years and three months. He stood and nodded toward the judge as he was led down to the cells.
Sentencing, judge Crabtree said: ‘To a man what you did has affected their lives to varying degrees, most have felt ashamed or embarrassed. Of course the only person who should feel shame or guilt is you.
He said: 'Throughout you exerted the power and control you possessed over the boys to further that abuse, with confidence that they would not disclose what you were doing, or if they did so they would simply not be believed.
'You knew that for each of the boys at Southampton and Peterborough... football was their life, and that they recognised you held the key to their progressing to achieve their dreams, at least of an apprenticeship at Southampton, and of a professional contract at Peterborough United FC.
'Many of the boys idolised you, and were prepared, and did do anything to achieve their dream of becoming a professional footballer.
'I also have no doubt that you well recognised that for those who you abused, and who achieved successful careers, it would be extremely difficult, given the often vicious nature of the language used on the terraces in the 1970s and 1980s, to disclose what you had done.'
Higgins had groomed his victims and their parents, showering them with gifts of match tickets and shirts, the judge said.
Addressing Higgins on the abuse on Lee, the judge added: ‘Your offence caused instant, if not long-lasting, pain.’
The court heard how Higgins used ‘naked soapy water massages’ on boy players to ‘further your opportunity for abuse’.