'Victims of the football coach Bob Higgins, who is beginning a 24-year jail term for abusing schoolboy players, have said there are still many questions to be answered about why he was able to evade justice for three decades.
Survivors called on high-profile players and managers who worked with Higgins at Southampton FC to explain what they knew of his offending and claimed that by remaining quiet they continued to protect him.
They said Peterborough FC, where Higgins was also employed, and the Football Association also needed to come clean about why he had been able to coach and abuse youth players for seven years after concerns were raised about him.
Higgins, 66, from Southampton, showed no emotion as Judge Peter Crabtree jailed him at Winchester crown court for the abuse of 24 schoolboys over a 25-year period from 1971 to 1996.
The judge said Higgins was a cunning and manipulative predator who abused his position of trust as a respected coach and caused real, enduring harm to his victims. Higgins had not shown a jot of remorse, he said.
Many of his victims, now middle-aged men, sat in the public gallery as Higgins was sentenced. They had testified to suffering decades of mental health problems because of his crimes, and expressed anger, shame and guilt at what had happened to them.
Some told the court they had tried to kill themselves, and many said they had struggled over the years with flashbacks, panic attacks, depression, anxiety, lack of trust and problems with personal relationships. A number went on to have good careers in football, but some said they had lost their chance of fulfilling their potential because of Higgins.
After the sentencing, Hampshire police said more people had come forward to make allegations against Higgins since his conviction and that the possibility of further prosecutions had not been ruled out.'
Read more: Bob Higgins jailed for 24 years for abusing young footballers
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