Petition launched to change the law for alleged victims of football paedophile Bob Higgins

A petition has been launched to change the law which prevents alleged sexual abusers being prosecuted for the same crime after they have been acquitted.

Thursday, 4th July 2019, 5:37 pm
Updated Monday, 8th July 2019, 10:09 pm
Bob Higgins at an earlier appearance Picture: Solent News & Photo Agency

A lawyer acting for six alleged victims of convicted paedophile football coach Bob Higgins wants to close the ‘legal loophole’ which prevents him from being tried for further alleged offences against them.

The 66-year-old ex-youth coach at Southampton Football Club was jailed in June for 24 years and three months at Winchester Crown Court for 46 offences of indecent assault against 24 teenage boys between 1971 and 1996, including former Pompey youth p

But a previous trial in 1991 involving the six complainants, including former Southampton footballer Dean Radford, collapsed after Higgins was acquitted of one charge against one of the alleged victims.

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Double jeopardy laws mean a defendant can only be tried again for offences when ‘compelling new evidence’ has emerged and on the most serious offences such as murder.

Dino Nocivelli, from London law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp, launched the petition to get child sexual abuse to be classed as a serious crime in law, allowing those previously acquitted of it to be prosecuted again.

Mr Nocivelli said: ‘In the last two years, nearly 100 people have come forward to allege sexual abuse at the hands of Higgins and 23 of these people recently obtained guilty verdicts in their cases.

‘The level of new and compelling evidence against Higgins would allow the original six cases to be retried if child sexual abuse was rightly classified as a serious crime.

‘It is time that the case of the original six Higgins complainants is reopened to ensure that justice is done for my clients.’

On Monday the petition had reached 1,369 signatures.