Devon

Exeter football coach Anthony Mitchell jailed for raping boys

Anthony Mitchell Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption Football coach Anthony Mitchell has been jailed for drugging and raping young boys

A youth football coach who drugged and raped young boys in his team has been jailed for 21 years.

Anthony Mitchell used his position as manager of the team in the 1970s to gain access to 11 and 12-year-old boys.

Mitchell, of Exeter, fed his victims drink or Mogadon sleeping pills before abusing them on overnight trips, the city's crown court heard.

His victims were prompted by the Rolf Harris and Jimmy Savile scandals to report his crimes to police.

The court heard the attacks contributed to one of his two victims turning down the chance to become a professional after being offered trials at Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.

'Childhoods destroyed'

Mitchell, of Foxhayes Road, was a nightshift worker at the time and persuaded his GP to prescribe him huge quantities of the Mogadon he used on his victims.

The defendant, now 78, was the manager of the boy's team in Exeter in the 1960s and 1970s and the boys' families allowed them to stay with him in his van in Dawlish Warren, at weekends.

Recorder Ignatius Hughes, QC, told him: "You caused severe psychological harm. These men had their childhoods pretty much destroyed by you.

"There was abuse of trust, grooming and planning."

The judge described the experience of one boy, who woke to find himself naked and bent over a table with Mitchell behind him holding a syringe as "nothing short of a horror".

Mitchell, who has cancer, had denied two serious sexual offences, which would now be classed as male rape, one of assault with intent to commit a similar offence, and three indecent assaults.

The judge also made an indefinite Sexual Offences Prevention Order and ordered him to sign the sex offenders' register indefinitely.

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