November 2002

Athletics coach is jailed in sex case

A TOP athletics coach is today starting a lengthy jail sentence after being convicted of a string of sex offences against two of his teenage proteges.

Paul North was sentenced to a total of 10 years for the sex assaults, which took place over two years. 

He will also be placed on the sex offenders register for the rest of his life.

North had denied raping a 15-year-old three times and indecently assaulting her nine times. He also denied indecently assaulting another 15-year-old girl.

But a jury at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday found him guilty of raping his first victim once and indecently assaulting her on seven occasions. He was also convicted of indecently assaulting his second victim.

The jury found him not guilty of two further rapes and two further indecent assaults.

The judge ordered a not guilty plea to be returned on one other rape allegation.

The court had heard that North, a school caretaker who lived in a tied house at Totley Infant and Junior School in Sunnyvale Road, Sheffield, trained young people in the high-flying Hallamshire Harriers team. Neither of the girls were pupils at the school.

He is said to have helped his first victim through problems at home, becoming something of a father figure in the process.

However, he took advantage of his position of trust and raped the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

North also committed a string of indecent assaults on the girl at his home in the school grounds, in his car and during athletic club trips.

The complaint came to light after another member of the club, who was 15 at the time, reported that she had been indecently assaulted by North.

She told the court that North had taken her to the school where he worked, which was deserted as it was the school holidays, for a special assessment to help her get into a more senior squad.

He is said to have put the girl through her paces then ordered her to go to a room – where he had already laid out a towel on a table – for an assessment

However, he ordered her to strip and lie on a table.

Sheffield Crown Court heard that he measured the girl’s arms, legs and chest – meticulously writing down the results – then told her to take her shorts and underwear off. When she seemed unwilling, he removed her sports top for her.

He then massaged the girl using baby oil and committed an indecent assault.

At the end of her ordeal, the terrified teenager dressed and was given a lift home by North.

However, she went straight to her father and reported what had happened.

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, later told police she was shaking with fear and was so scared she could not think properly.