July 2018

Paedophile who posed as football scout jailed for abusing boy in his own bedroom

A paedophile abused a teenage football hopeful in his own home for three years after claiming to be a youth scout for Manchester City.

Serial sex predator William Toner told the boy’s parents their son had “potential” after watching him play parks football.

Father-of-three Toner, now 74, would abuse the youngster in his own bedroom during post-training “rub down” sessions while his parents were downstairs.

Manchester City said it had no record of Toner ever having been employed or paid to scout for the club but Bolton Crown Court heard that the defendant did have coaching qualifications from the Football Association.

Toner, of Market Street, Whitworth, Rochdale, is still a danger to children, the court heard, with “distorted thinking” that “sexual abuse victims enjoy it”.

He pleaded guilty to four counts of indecent assault and was jailed for three years and two months.

Charlotte Crangle, prosecuting, told the court that, when Toner’s victim was 12, he played for a local youth team and he and his father were approached by Toner, who offered “one- to-one coaching”.

She said: They were under the impression he was either a scout for Manchester City or had some links to them.”

Toner, then in his 50s, became “like family” to the boy and his parents and the defendant began to take the youngster for weekly training sessions and afterwards would suggest a “rub down” for his muscles.

Miss Crangle continued:He engineered it so that would take place in the boy’s bedroom while the rest of the family were downstairs.”

During the rub downs, Toner would indecently assault his victim, with the abuse continuing for three years until the youngster turned 15 and refused further massages.

But the boy was tortured by the abuse, felt unable to tell his parents and turned his back on football and instead began drinking and taking drugs.

The victim, now in his 30s, said in a statement:The abuse has made me lack confidence and be extremely ashamed. I feel as though I have lived in a prison I have made in my own mind since the abuse.”

He did not talk about the abuse, which occurred in the early and mid 1990s, until 2016 when sexual abuse in football hit the headlines and he called Manchester City FC who referred him to the NSPCC and police.

The court heard that Toner, originally from the Manchester area, had married and had three children, living in the Cambridge area, but came out as gay, aged 40, in the early 1990s.

In 1992 he was convicted of indecent assault on a 13-year-old boy and was on probation for that offence when he moved back north and began coaching for local youth football teams.

Toner also had a previous conviction for gross indecency involving young boys in 1983 and he was later jailed for 12 months in 2001 for abusing another 15-year-old boy.

Passing sentence, Judge Richard Gioserano, jailed Toner for 38 months on each count, to run concurrently.

He said:They no doubt thought you had his best interests at heart, saw potential in him and might help him on to a career in professional football. “You did not believe he would progress further; you used him for your own sexual gratification and he is still living with the psychological damage you inflicted on him.”