A MAN heavily involved in Plymouth youth football has been jailed for raping a 12-year-old schoolboy in a public toilet.
Nicholas David Allen, 35, was sent to prison for five and a half years after pleading guilty to one count of raping a child under 13.
But the prosecution at Plymouth Crown Court accepted Allen’s explanation that the boy initiated the sex acts and appeared to him to be “about 16”.
The court heard that football was Allen’s “absolute passion” and that he formerly managed Prince Rock Youth Club’s under-18 side, refereed adult and junior matches and for two years allocated referees for under-18 games.
He held many posts with the Devon Junior Minor League, from which he resigned in January.
David Gittins, prosecuting, said that on January 22 the boy walked home from school in his uniform and carrying a rucksack, but took a “very circuitous” route via public toilets on The Barbican, a well-known meeting place for homosexual men.
After engaging in a sexual act with Allen, he went home and made a complaint to his mother, who called the police.
Allen, who had been in the habit of visiting toilets for sex for the last 10 years, noticed the boy looking at him at the urinal, the court heard.
As the toilet was busy, he left and sat outside on a bench.
The boy followed 10 seconds later, and sat on another bench looking at him repeatedly before re-entering the toilets, where sexual activity followed.
Eventually Allen asked the boy, who was 5ft 8ins tall, how old he was.
When he replied 15, Allen told him: “This is not a very good idea,” and stopped, the boy replying: “I’m not bothered”, the court was told.
Following massive publicity in The Herald about the attack, Allen told various people, including a friend in the police, what he had done, and turned himself in.
He had a previous conviction for gross indecency with a man in a public toilet.
Ali Rafati, defending, said there was no evidence of Allen being attracted to young people over the years.
Police searched his computer and belongings and found nothing to suggest a sexual interest in children.
No force, control or coercion was used, and the boy had instigated the sex acts, the court heard.
There was no suggestion that Allen had ever acted inappropriately towards youngsters during his involvement with football.
Mr Rafati said: “He made an error in believing his victim was able to consent.”
Allen, wearing jeans and a dark navy Adidas tee-shirt, listened attentively as Judge Francis Gilbert QC told him: “You thought him to be about 16 – perhaps old enough to consent, perhaps not, but you proceeded with no inquiries at all.
“The boy seems to have been of a homosexual inclination, and you were alarmed when you found out he was not 16.
“But clearly you should have learned his age before allowing your lust to overtake your judgement.”
He sentenced Allen, of Albert Road, Devonport, to five and a half years in jail less 83 days spent on remand, ordered him to sign the Sex Offenders’ register indefinitely and banned him from working with children in future.