The reputation of a football coach today lay in tatters as he began a six-year sentence for sexual grooming of four schoolgirls.
Anthony Chattell, 27, of Fulwood Heights, Fulwood, Preston, pleaded guilty to 10 charges involving youngsters aged 13 to 15.
Chattell, who has worked for a number of sporting clubs in Lancashire, was arrested after the stepfather of one of his young victims raised the alarm.
Preston Crown Court heard he had demanded some of his victims send naked images of themselves to him, and had sent explicit images of himself to them.
Jailing him for six years, four months, Judge Pamela Bradley said: “Fragile young girls who are growing into maturity and into confidence are very easily swayed, particularly when an older individual uses flattery and grooming techniques and this is what happened here.”
“He took away their innocence.”
Those were the words of a mum whose daughter was groomed by a former football coach who carried out a string of sexual offences involving children.
Anthony Chattell, 27, of Fulwood Heights, Fulwood, Preston, who worked at several sports clubs across Lancashire, has been jailed for a total of six years and four months, after admitting 10 offences against four teenage girls.
Preston Crown Court heard he badgered some of the girls for naked pictures and videos of them committing sexual acts – sending videos of himself to them.
On one occasion he had given a 14-year-old a lift home and asked “what she wanted” before touching her leg and kissing her. One girl, who was just 13 when the grooming started, sent up to 30 photos of herself at his request and was asked for a video of her performing a sexual act.
She is now suffering mental health difficulties, she told the court in a statement.
Judge Pamela Badley said there was “no blame at all” on the victims, adding: “How and why Anthony Chattell started this downward spiral of sexual activity towards these young women is difficult to ascertain.
“There was consistent repeated behaviour of an indecent thread towards these young women.
“He has lost his reputation. The effect upon his family has been devastating.”
Wearing a grey suit and purple tie, Chattell glanced around the dock nervously and took deep breaths.
From the full public gallery, he was watched by several people, including some of the victim’s families and his own relatives.
He previously admitted sexual activity with a girl under 16, five counts of making indecent images of children, attempting to facilitate sexual activity with a child, causing a child to watch sexual activity, and two of causing or inciting a child under 16 to engage in sexual activity, all over a period between February 2008 and July 2014.
Prosecuting, Paul Brookwell said: “He groomed these girls by flattering them, by flirtatious behaviour which led onto inappropriate comments, which then led on to more explicit requests.”
He added in a police interview Chattell had said: “It didn’t seem real, it seemed detached from reality.”
Defending, Beverley Hackett said: “He comes from a very good, hard working family. It’s fair to say they are devastated by what their son has done.”
The court heard he had texted his last victim after a party, calling her pretty and saying he was “not happy” she was under 16, before asking: “Any chance?”
Her stepdad raised the alarm.
Judge Badley said he had been “acute” in bringing the matter forward and was to be “commended”.
David Groombridge, of Lancashire Police, investigator in the case, said: “I am pleased with the sentence and that this brings closure for the victims.
“These were serious sexual offences committed against children with whom Chattell had built up a relationship through his work as a football coach.
“We take all allegations of sexual abuse extremely seriously and we would encourage people with any information about sexual abuse or who has been a victim of sexual abuse to come forward and report their concerns, confident in the knowledge it will be investigated appropriately and with sensitivity.”