April 2017

Harlow football coach jailed for grooming and sexual activity with boys

A Harlow football coach has been jailed for nine years for grooming and sexual activity with boys.

Robert Ellis, 50, of Church End, Harlow, was banned from FA coaching when he arranged to meet young men online by posing as a talent scout and then sexually engaged with some of his victims.

He was found guilty of six counts of engaging in sexual activity with a boy aged under 15 and three counts of sexual touching.

On one of those occasions Ellis engaged in sexual touching of a 14-year-old boy, while he was on bail for previous similar offences.

Returning to Chelmsford Crown Court today (Friday, April 7) he was sentenced to nine years in prison and will be added to the sex offenders register for life.

Ellis, a professional civil servant, had pleaded not guilty and the trial took place in February. The court heard he met one 15-year-old victim online in April 2015.

He invited him to football matches claimed to have talent spotted goalkeepers and offered to coach the teenager, who was from Lincolnshire.

Ellis arranged to meet him in a park in July of that year and the pair played football before going for a meal.

The mother of the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, found out and banned her son from contacting him again.

But they resumed contact in December 2015 and arranged to meet. This was reported to police and Ellis was arrested in January 2016, before the meeting could take place.

Essex Police began investigations and found another young man who said he had been in a sexual relationship with Ellis when he was 15, after they met online.

The victim told how they had twice engaged in sexual activity, once after Ellis had taken him to Chessington World of Adventures and the second time after he had taken him out for dinner.

During the police investigation, it was also found Ellis had been banned by the Football Association from taking part in any FA-football related activity involving under 18s, since December 2013.

However, he continued to take part in informal football sessions in Harlow that were not covered by this ban.

Whilst on bail, Ellis met a 14-year-old boy and engaged in sexual touching with him. He was again arrested and remanded.

A jury found him guilty of all charges on February 28.