Tees

Ex-junior football manager jailed for sexually abusing boys

Anthony McGrath Image copyright Cleveland Police
Image caption Anthony McGrath, 41, admitted sexually abusing six young boys.

A junior football club manager who was also a team mascot has been jailed for nine years after admitting sexually abusing six young boys.

Anthony McGrath, 41, invited boys to sleep over at his house and bought them drinks and fast food, Teesside Crown Court heard.

McGrath had also worked at Middlesbrough Football Club as its mascot, Roary the Lion.

The abuse took place between 1992 and 2008. The youngest victim was 10.

McGrath, of Thornton Street, Middlesbrough, admitted three counts of indecent assault, two of sexual activity with a child and one of indecency with a child.

'Bravery' of victims

Four of the charges relate to his time as manager of a junior football club on Teesside.

Det Sgt Dan Heron from Cleveland Police credited the "bravery and courage" shown by the victims.

"Despite being subjected to the most serious of crimes at such a young age, they have found the strength to see this to the end," he said after the hearing.

"Anthony McGrath manipulated circumstances to take advantage of innocent children, it is only right that he now goes to prison to reflect on the damage he has caused them."

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