July 2009

Dangerous paedophile who preyed on young boys at football matches is jailed indefinitely

A paedophile who preyed on young boys at football matches was today jailed indefinitely for public protection.

Graham Simms, 49, befriended the boys and their families at Leicester City Football Club matches and an amateur club in the area, then inappropriately touched them.

Simms, of Braunstone Lane, Braunstone, Leicester, was convicted of five counts of sexual assault against a child under 13, and three counts of sexual grooming after a trial earlier this year.

Jailed indefinitely: Paedophile Graham Simms, 49, befriended young boys and their families at Leicester City Football Club matches

The court heard Simms, who was previously convicted of sex offences against children, had committed the offences whilst on licence.

Today at Leicester Crown Court he was told he will not be eligible for parole for at least three-and-a-half years.

The persistent sex offender was also handed a life Sexual Offences Prevention Order, was banned from working with children for life, and will remain on the Sex Offenders Register for life.

Judge Simon Hammond told the court, packed with families of Simms’ victims: ‘That, in effect, is a life sentence.

‘This man will not be released until the authorities believe that he no longer poses a danger to young boys.’

He said he anticipated the 49-year-old would be in prison for many years, and added: ‘I think this man is a very dangerous paedophile.’

Family members cheered and gave a round of applause as the judge gave his comments.

The court heard Simms was convicted of sexual offences in 1987, 1991, 2000 and 2003 – including touching young boys’ private parts after he met them through his involvement in local football teams.

He also preyed on a vulnerable single mother, then touched her son.

Simms was released on licence in April 2004 but continued to offend and mislead the people he reported to, the court heard.

During the trial, it was revealed he ingratiated himself with families of football-mad boys, treating them and even laying on his own coach to take them to football matches.

He appeared at Leicester City games wearing a club tracksuit and badges in an effort to make himself look more official, the court heard.

Simms would hug and kiss the boys, and slapped one on the backside, the court heard.

He was found guilty of sexually assault and grooming, but was cleared by the jury of more serious charges of touching their private parts.

Today the judge said: ‘Over the period of 20 years he has shown himself to be a persistent and unrepentant paedophile who cannot keep himself away from boys.

‘It would be dangerous to minimise the effect of the hugging and the kissing, nor the long-term effects to those boys.

‘There is no doubt that that was sexual touching for his own sexual gratification, it was done as part of the grooming process for more serious sexual offences.’

Judge Hammond said he found it ‘profoundly worrying’ that two sexual offences prevention courses in the past had had no effect on Simms, adding: ‘I think it’s quite clear that he has deceived the people who were trying to help him.’

He said neither Leicester City Football Club nor the amateur club were to blame in any way, and told the court Simms had been banned for life from Leicester’s Walkers Stadium.

He said: ‘There is a lesson to be learnt. All professional and amateur football clubs should be aware of the risk that paedophiles may target them to get closer to young boys.’

The court heard a pre-sentence report found Simms placed responsibility for what had happened on his victims, claiming they instigated it.

But Judge Hammond – who was greeted again by a round of applause – said that was ‘absolute, total nonsense’.

Defending Simms, Philip Gibbs said the 49-year-old, who is in ill health, had made efforts to further his education while in prison and had proved no problem to officers.

He said Simms, who was claiming disability benefit, had helped his disabled mother as well as another disabled lady in the area.

He also told the court Simms had not been convicted of the more serious offences, and his affectionate behaviour to the children had caused ‘mild discomfort’, to which he was told by Judge Hammond: ‘You cannot minimise the long-term effect on youngsters.’