Swimming coach, 79, jailed after 55 years of 'vile' child abuse
A FORMER swimming coach whose catalogue of child abuse stretched back to the Second World War was beginning a 12-year jail term yesterday for his "vile" crimes.
"Predatory paedophile" Roy Clarke, 79, was warned at a previous court appearance that he faced the prospect of dying in prison for sexually abusing children as young as five at his home in Leicester between 1942 and 1997.
He was jailed at the city's crown court yesterday after admitting attacks against eight children. Police fear many more victims have not come forward.
Clarke, a former Leicester Amateur Swimming Association county coach, groomed and abused children he knew in the Aylestone area of the city around his home in Duncan Road.
After gaining their trust he would go on to abuse them, the court heard.
The pensioner, seated in a wheelchair in the court dock yesterday, would visit swimming clubs and leisure centres in the city in an advisory capacity and also taught youngsters to swim in private lessons.
He pleaded guilty to 16 counts of indecency with five girls and three boys, all under 16, when he answered the charges at Leicester Crown Court in February.
Jailing Clarke, Judge Christopher Plunkett told him: "For a period of more than 50 years you preyed on young, vulnerable children - five, six, seven and eight years old and sometimes a little older.
"In a premeditated way you won their trust and the community's trust, but you did so in a way in which you could indulge in your vile desires."
Two of the charges related to indecency with two girls in the 1940s. The most recent offence was in 1998. One of his victims was a girl he was coaching in swimming.
In total, Clarke admitted three serious sex attacks, eight counts of indecent assault and five of gross indecency.
He denied a further 11 charges against five other youngsters. The judge ordered that those charges lie on file.
The police investigation into Clarke's activities began in August last year when a woman came forward and reported historical sexual abuse.
Others followed and four further victims approached police after publicity surrounding Clarke's first court appearance.
Detective Inspector Lee Hill, who led the Operation Cabinet investigation, said he feared many more of Clarke's victims had never reported their ordeals.
He said: "Clarke is a predatory paedophile who carried out calculated, systematic and sickening abuse of children for his own gratification.
"He is a very dangerous man."
Mr Hill praised Clarke's victims for reporting their ordeals but said he was sure many others had stayed silent.
"I am convinced that there are other people out there who may have been abused by this man," he said. "It is not too late for people to come forward and tell us about it."
Clarke was also placed on the sex offender register for life.
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