Pensioner (70) jailed for 22 years for the rape and sexual abuse of boys
A paedophile former soccer coach who preyed on young boys to sexually abuse them over three decades has been jailed for 22 years.
Under an extended sentence for public protection, Neil McKenna, 70, will stay behind bars for more than 14 years before the parole board will consider whether it is safe to release him.
A judge said the once respected sportsman, of Barnetts Close, Tunbridge Wells, had “no insight whatsoever” into his offending and spoke of the terrible effect on victims.
“The incredible evil of these offences is they affect people’s lives,” said Judge Charles Macdonald QC.
It was revealed that McKenna was working as a taxi driver during his trial – taking two children on the school run – in breach of his bail conditions.
McKenna was convicted on October 15 of abusing four boys, one of whom was repeatedly raped.
He denied six charges of rape, 17 of indecent assault on a male and one of indecency with a child between 1976 and 2006.
He was convicted of four offences of rape, 12 of indecent assault and one of indecency with a child and acquitted of the remaining charges.
McKenna was originally accused of abusing five boys.
Prosecutor Christopher May said McKenna used his position as a coach to gain the boys’ trust.
“Over a period of time he then took advantage of the opportunity afforded to him to abuse them sexually,” he told Maidstone Crown Court.
McKenna coached teams in Headcorn, High Brooms, Southborough and Cranbrook.
Mr May said there was a previous investigation in the mid-1990s into allegations by two boys of sexual abuse.
McKenna, who had also lived in Dr Hopes Road, Cranbrook, made denials when arrested and no charges were brought.
He gave a press interview at the time claiming it was all a witch hunt.
But Mr May said the earlier complaints were reconsidered in light of further disclosures made by others who came forward to complain they were sexually abused by him.
Three others – now adults – came forward in 2012.
Mr May said McKenna, who worked as a swimming pool attendant at Tenterden Leisure Centre and Benenden Chest Hospital, abused the boys aged eight to 15.
McKenna, who had a flower shop in St John’s Road, Tunbridge Wells, committed some of the offences when he was a sports instructor at Price Waterhouse in London.
His name will appear on the sex offenders’ register indefinitely and he will be barred from working with children.
Passing sentence, Judge Macdonald said: “The facts of this case are extremely unpleasant and distressing. It involved some 30 years of sexual offending against multiple victims of a paedophile and homosexual nature.
“There was grooming and targeting of vulnerable victims and abuse of trust. He exploited his position as a sportsman as manager of football teams.”
The judge said the victim who was raped was “unquestionably vulnerable” because he was living on the streets in Tunbridge Wells.
He was taken in, groomed by McKenna and “raped over and over again”.
Judge Macdonald said victim impact statements showed the effect that had come to be expected in such cases.
“There are recordings of shame, anger and guilt,” he continued. “There is fear for their own children, no self-esteem and problems with intimate relationships. These are typical lifelong effects.”
McKenna’s pre-sentence report said there was a risk of reoffending but surprisingly, said the judge, it did not find he was dangerous.
“I disagree,” he said. “His conduct has escalated in gravity. He maintains complete denial. This in itself makes him highly dangerous, in my view.
“He is eloquent, charming and has good communication skills. These talents have been put to bad use in his offending. I conclude he is clearly dangerous and pass an extended sentence.
“There are two sides to the defendant. One side is his genuine human quality, but in this case it is the dark side I have to dealt with.”
Pervert found guilty of raping a young boy and molesting others
A 70-year-old man from Tunbridge Wells has been found guilty of raping a young boy and molesting four others over a period spanning four decades.
Neil McKenna of Barnett’s Close, Tunbridge Wells was arrested in November 2013 after police carried out a warrant to search his home address.
It followed an allegation made to Kent Police in 2012 by a man in his 30s that he had been raped by McKenna when he was 13.
An investigation by Kent Police detectives discovered there were other victims and previous investigations, and it led to McKenna being charged with 24 sexual offences committed between 1976 and 2003 when the boys were aged eight to 15.
The offences were committed in Headcorn, Cranbrook and Tunbridge Wells and McKenna had gained access to children via football clubs he was managing and gaining the trust of vulnerable families. Some of the offences took place in London where he worked as a sports instructor.
McKenna, who denied all of the allegations, was convicted of 17 of the 24 charges by a jury at Maidstone Crown Court who returned a unanimous verdict.
They are four offences of rape, 12 of indecent assault and one of indecency with a child.
He is due to be sentenced on November 27.
Investigating officer Detective Constable David Turner said: “This conviction shows that reports made by victims of historic abuse will always be taken seriously. Any complaint of this type will be investigated thoroughly by specialist officers, with victims treated with care and understanding. We ensure that support is offered to all victims at the earliest opportunity, as their welfare is our primary concern.
“Neil McKenna abused his position in order to carry out the abuse, and we hope his imminent prison sentence will encourage other victims of this type of historic abuse to come forward.”