March 2021

Man jailed for child sex offences which happened when he was at a football club in Leamington

A senior player who regularly abused a youngster in a Leamington football club in the 1970s and had a history of sexual offending against children stretching five decades has been jailed for five years and three months.

David Candlish, of Spon End, Coventry, pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to five charges of indecent assault on a child.

The 74-year-old, who has similar previous convictions and has already served an eight-year sentence, was also ordered to register as a sex offender for life.

Prosecutor Stefan Kolodynski said in the mid-1970s Candlish joined the club which ran both adult and junior teams.

With the club unaware he had a 1972 conviction for indecent assault on a male, he was trusted to drive an 11-year-old boy home from training and matches.

After one game he stopped outside Leamington and, claiming there was something wrong with the car, leaned over, put his hand on the boy’s groin and touched him indecently.

Similar incidents happened on at least five other occasions, with Candlish playing ‘mind games’ and threatening to tell the boy’s father if he did not go along with it.

The worst incident, when the boy was 12, happened in an isolated part of a garden at a house they had gone to after a match.

The boy’s parents and other adults had gone inside, Candlish got the boy, who was still wearing his football kit, on to the ground.

He pulled his shorts down and got the boy to touch him before ‘spooning’ him and simulating intercourse – an ordeal the victim said stayed with him for life.

The final incident took place when they went fishing and Candlish pulled the boy’s shorts down and touched him. They were disturbed by the boy’s father who warned Candlish to keep away from his son but did not report the matter.

Years later the victim said he could ‘finally able to face up to his demons,’ and went to the police, adding: “I am now in the best place in my life.”

On arrest Candlish said it was ‘pure fantasy’ and said his victim was trying to get compensation. He then said it was ‘99 per cent lies’ but accepted touching him on the fishing trip.

Mr Kolodynski added Candlish had since been jailed for eight years in 1999 for indecent assaults on two boys, and for 14 months in 2019 for sexual assault on a boy aged under 14.

Sarah Allen, defending, said: “Clearly he has a problem, and it is entrenched over the years. It is clear he is remorseful for what happened. Fortunately for him, the last sentence he had would seem to have had some impact on him.”

And she argued: “A significant community order would have the benefit of continuing to work with him to prevent future offending.”

But that was firmly rejected by Judge Peter Cooke, who told Candlish: “As the pre-sentence report points out, you have engaged in harmful sexual offences against boys over a period spanning 50 years.

“You have continued to have an acknowledged inappropriate interest in children.

“Throughout your offending history you have prioritised your own desires over the rights and welfare of your victims.

“Over the course of the authorities’ involvement with you and your offending, a range of interventions have been tried, but none has succeeded in reducing the risk factors.

“It must be understood I am not sentencing you for the culmination of your career as an abuser of children. What I am sentencing you for is [your] second group of offences.

“Your repeated conduct was part of a pattern of cynical and compulsive sexual abuse at a time when you were a convicted sex offender, and it was a pattern to be repeated with your later victims.

“I see no way in which any court could conclude this could be met by a community disposal. It demands, and must be met by, a significant period of immediate imprisonment.

“The abuse was conducted in a fashion which was both clandestine and at times bold to the point of being brazen, and the threat to tell his dad was a cruelly manipulative mind game.”