June 2019

Rugby coach jailed after grooming young girls

A Hertfordshire rugby club coach was today (Tuesday, June 18) jailed for 12 months for ‘sexting’ two young girls and grooming them online.

Gavin Lendon, 52, of Lords Meadow, Redbourn, appeared at St Albans Crown Court for sentencing this afternoon.

He had admitted two counts of inciting a child into sexual activity between November 2017 and February 2018 when he appeared at St Albans Crown Court on Thursday, May 23.

The court heard that Lendon was a coach at Harpenden Rugby Club and had used his position of trust to groom two young girls who attended the club.

One of the girls was subjected to sexualised chat for a significant and harmful length of time.

He would message his victims, teenagers at the time of the offences, using WhatsApp, Facebook messenger and word games chat, using sexually explicit language and trying to persuade them to send him sexual images and engage in sexual activity with one another.

He was arrested when the father of one of the victims found worrying chat on his daughter’s Facebook messenger.

When Lendon was arrested he told officers: “I know what this is about, it’s about one of the girls at rugby… I said I loved her, her friend saw it and thought grooming.”

He claimed there was no sexual motivation and that he felt ‘genuine concern’ and was trying to help.

When presented with the chat he agreed it was inappropriate and went against his safeguarding training as a sports coach. In one heavily sexual online chat group he set up with the two girls, Lendon was referred to as ‘God’.

He sent the girls explicit images of women engaged in sex acts and asked them to send him photos.

On one occasion he collected one of his victims from school and took her to the Holiday Inn for something to eat.

Another time they had lunch at a Toby Carvery.

He would often buy her alcohol at the rugby club.