Boy, 15, bought car and drove hundreds of miles to escape from former Peterborough United coach Bob Higgins, jury told in paedophile trail

Ex-Peterborough United coach Bob Higgins arrives at court
Ex-Peterborough United coach Bob Higgins arrives at court

One of the alleged victims of "paedophile" coach Bob Higgins has told a court that he bought a car while aged only 15 and drove hundreds of miles to get away from him.

The 65-year-old defendant, who ran the youth team coaching for Southampton Football Club and Peterborough United, is on trial at Salisbury Crown Court accused of 50 counts of indecent assault against 24 complainants between 1971 and 1996.

Ex-Peterborough United coach Bob Higgins

Ex-Peterborough United coach Bob Higgins

The complainant, who cannot be named but is referred to as Complainant L, said in a police interview shown to the jury that Higgins had groped him during "soapy massages" given after training sessions.

He said: "I didn't say anything afterwards; after the massage had finished I just went and got showered and went to my room and cried."

He added: "He would stand naked in the shower next to you, mostly concentrating on his genitals. It didn't seem right he was in with 14-year-old boys, some 13."

Complainant L said he had not told anyone because he felt it was "part of the procedure" and because of the defendant's position in the football world.

He said: "I just thought it was normal. I was desperate to be a footballer, I thought he was the one who could say 'Yes' or 'No'. I didn't say anything to anybody."

He continued: "He wanted us to focus on him and trust him, he would put my dad down: 'Do not trust him, you have to listen to me, trust me'."

He said the defendant had told him that if he made any accusations against him that he "would never play football again".

Complainant L said he had become "desperate to be away from him" and, after a sum of money was accidentally put into his bank account, he used it to buy a car.

He said: "That was my way to get away and I went and bought a car and drove it home.

"I drove it all the way back home just to be away from him."

Another alleged victim, referred to as Complainant K, said Higgins had groped him in his car and in the defendant's room after a training session when he was 13 years old.

He said that on the first occasion he thought it was a mistake because the coach had told the trainees to trust him to help further their football careers.

Complainant K said: "I didn't feel upset by it because he used to talk about trust in him, he would make you a superstar, you felt he held your future.

He said Higgins' behaviour was a topic of conversation when he became an apprentice footballer but he did not make a complaint against him.

Complainant K said: "It was an industry where you couldn't show any signs of weakness."

Higgins, of Southampton, Hampshire, denies the charges and the trial continues.