Victim helped snare south London paedophile football coach

A brave dad helped snare the paedophile south London football coach who groomed him in the 1980s – and discovered the monster’s sick abuse had spanned three decades.

Wayne Groves, 42, met convicted sex offender David Hughes when he was a child playing in the New Addington Little League in Croydon.

Hughes groomed the then 11-year-old Wayne by bribing him with expensive football kits and cinema tickets.

Wayne recalls that the predator would lure him to his home and bedroom when he would abuse him.

Croydon Crown Court

He said: “Dave took me to watch Jurassic Park at the cinema and bought me an away Manchester United strip, things my family couldn’t afford.

“Dave would apply body lotion to myself and I would do the same to him.

“He would play with my genitalia and cuddle me while I slept.

“I know I was frozen in the foetal position – I was a young boy, I knew it was weird at the time and can’t understand why I let all this happen to me.”

He kept the life-changing abuse secret for years, bottling it up and secretly using his pain to help countless others, working for 20 years with young people.

Wayne finally confided in his then-partner and, encouraged by her support, twice approached police.

Bolstered by his evidence, cops arrested Hughes, and chillingly found him carrying a holdall with children’s underwear inside.

More victims joined Wayne’s fight, but coward Hughes denied the charges – forcing them to face him in court, staring down the coach who used to abuse them.

Hughes, 66, was found guilty of 14 offences against four boys aged between eight and 15 at Croydon Crown Court last month.

He faces sentencing later this month.

Eight men are currently taking High Court legal action against Manchester City, over Barry Bennell abuse claims denied by the club.

Dad-of-two Wayne said: “It makes me feel quite upset, I’m not saying I’m the strongest person but you’ve got to be strong to come forward as a young man about this.

“People say it’s all finished now but it’s just the beginning.

“I have tried to use my life to help others make the right choices or give advice.

“I hope for some good to come of this and that’s what my goal is – to help others in their time of need.”

Dave thinks that the support for victims of historic abuse should be improved to help encourage more people to come forward.

He said: “It’s really difficult, I think these guys know who to target, who won’t speak, and that’s just within them.

“There’s only so many checks you can do if you’ve never been caught before, it probably would have gone on his whole life.

“With a support network more people will get found out, like this guy, and that will encourage less people to go on down that path.”

Wayne came across paedophile Hughes when he was only eleven, as he was a large part of the football community in the area and worked as a volunteer football coach and youth worker.

The little boy loved the sport and was involved in New Addington Little League and Coney Hall Football Club, as well as playing matches and training at community youth centres.

He said: “He knew how to talk to kids, he knew the sort of children he’d target with poor backgrounds who couldn’t afford a Manchester United strip and it would escalate.

“His nickname was Apple because he had a big Adam’s apple, all the kids would call him Apple.

“In my heart of hearts I knew he was a bit weird, and it was an ongoing thing on the estate that he was a bit of a funny guy around young men.

“But no one ever spoke about it, it was kind of the elephant in the room.”

He would see the abuser, who worked in his youth centre, up to three times a week, and would be invited over to his house at least once a fortnight.

He said: “He’d take me to youth clubs about five to ten miles away I would sit in the back of that in the meeting and he’d orchestrate it so I’d be late home.

“I was scared of being late home, my parents didn’t know where I was half the time, so I would call and say I’m staying at a friends.

“I just wanted to play football, to play football with older guys.”

Hughes would convince the boy to go back to his house to try on new football kit in order to sexually abuse him.

Wayne claims this happened on at least five occasions.

He recalled: “He would take my shorts down and play around with me a bit, rubbing in cream, and then I’d rub cream on him.

“I remember being in the foetal position, facing the wall, like a rabbit in headlights.”

Wayne said these meet-ups kept happening for about two years until he lost interest in football and moved away from the area.

He said: “I never spoke about it to anyone on the estate, it was an ongoing bit of banter that he was a child predator but no one ever spoke about it in a personal matter.”

Even though he lost contact with Hughes, the effects of the abuse have haunted him throughout his life, as he suffered from PTSD and depression as a result.

While he hasn’t worked for several years for health reasons, brave Wayne spent 20 years working in a Youth Offending Team and care homes trying to improve the lives of young people.

Urged by his concerned then-partner, the dad-of-two first filed a police report in 2012, and then another in 2018 which led to Hughes’ arrest.

He went to Croydon Crown Court on October 5 to give a statement to the jury and looked Hughes in the eye for the first time in over 20 years.

Wayne, who now lives in Brighton, said: “He didn’t seem phased at all.

“I couldn’t picture him in my head before, now that’s all I see.”

Volunteer football coach Hughes was arrested on 21 December 2018 when he was found with him a black holdall with children’s underwear inside.

More items of new underwear were found during a search of his New Addington address, and he was charged on 28 February 2020.

Hughes was found guilty of ten counts of indecent assault on three boys aged 8 to 13, two counts of sexual activity with a boy aged 13 to 15 and two counts of causing the same boy aged 13 to 15 to engage in sexual activity.

The first ten offences took place between 1988 and 1995, when Hughes was employed as a youth worker at youth clubs in New Addington and worked as a voluntary football coach.

Further offences were committed in 2017 and 2018 independently of his employment.

Hughes was remanded in custody to be sentenced provisionally on November 25.

Wayne hopes that coming forward with his account may encourage other survivors of historic child abuse to do the same.

He said: “I really want to speak out about this as I’m a young-looking male and I know not many males do come forward.

“I just want to use my life to better others or empower them to speak out.

“It may bring people forward to disclose what David did to them as I believe there were thousands and maybe I can help them deal with their abuse.”

You can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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