Essex

Harlow football coach Robert Ellis who groomed boys jailed

Robert Ellis Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption Robert Ellis, 50, denied one charge of meeting a boy aged under 16 after grooming and six counts of sexual activity with a boy aged under 15

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

Robert Ellis, 50, denied one charge of meeting a boy aged under 16 after grooming and six counts of sexual activity with a boy aged under 15.

Ellis, of Church End, Harlow, also denied three counts of sexual touching. He was convicted of all the charges at Chelmsford Crown Court in February.

The court heard Ellis met one 15-year-old victim online in April 2015.

Victim's mother

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

Ellis, a civil servant, arranged to meet him in a park in July 2015 where they played football and later went for a meal.

The boy's mother reported Ellis to local police after finding out and banned her son from contacting him again.

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However, 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.

During the course of their inquiries, officers spoke to another young man who said he had been in a sexual relationship with Ellis when he was 15 after they met online.

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.

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