Coach jailed for girl sex offences
A football coach has been jailed for six years and four months for committing sexual offences against four under-age girls.
Anthony Chattell, 27, persuaded several of his victims to exchange intimate photographs and videos via mobile phone.
The FA qualified coach, who had worked with a number of clubs in Lancashire, abused his position of trust to target the girls aged between 13 and 15.
Prosecutor Paul Brookwell told Preston Crown Court: "The prosecution say that in abusing his position of trust he did so in a manner of grooming these girls by flattering them with flirtatious behaviour, which then led on to inappropriate comments and then on to specific requests."
He said one 15-year-old girl received a number of text messages from Chattell which said: "You look good tonight. Not happy you are under 16. Any chance?
"I want to meet you. I will find a purpose."
Mr Brookwell said: " She felt uncomfortable with this and felt he was weird and creepy."
Chattell kissed another girl and touched her on the leg when he gave her a lift home, the court heard.
In a victim personal statement read out, one of the girls' mothers said: "When Mr Chattell took over as coach I believed he had her best interests at heart and thought of him as a good friend
"I now believe he used the trust to build up an inappropriate relationship with my daughter. His actions took away her innocence."
Chattell, of Fulwood Heights, Preston, pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to various offences including engaging in sexual activity with a child, making indecent images, causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and attempting to arrange or facilitate sexual activity.
Arguing for a non-custodial sentence, Beverley Hackett said her client accepted he was in a significant position of trust and he should not have acted as he did.
But he was not in denial and was not blaming anyone but himself and that the public may be best protected by keeping him in the community to take part in a sex offender programme.
Judge Pamela Badley disagreed and said it was an "incredibly sad case" where "fragile" young girls had been "easily swayed" by an older man who had used grooming techniques.
Following sentencing, police investigator David Groombridge, of Lancashire Constabulary, said: "These were serious sexual offences committed against children with whom Chattell had built up a relationship through his work as a football coach.
"We take all allegations of sexual abuse extremely seriously and we would encourage people with any information about sexual abuse or who has been a victim of sexual abuse to come forward and report their concerns confident in the knowledge it will be investigated appropriately and with sensitivity."