Footballer, 74, who sexually abused 11-year-old youth player is jailed

Footballer, 74, who sexually abused 11-year-old youth player after training and matches while they played for same club in 1970s is jailed for five years

  • David Candlish assaulted the boy following football training and matches in 70s
  • Managers of club in Leamington Spa unaware of his indecent assault conviction 
  • Candlish jailed for five years and three months after victim reported years later 

Pictured: David Candlish, 74, who repeatedly assaulted his 11-year-old victim

A former footballer who sexually abused a youth player after training and matches while they played for the same club in the 1970s has been jailed.

David Candlish, 74, repeatedly assaulted his 11-year-old victim while he was wearing his football kit after being trusted to drive the child home.

A court heard the pensioner, who has a history of sexual offending against children spanning over 50 years, had joined the same club as the boy in the mid-1970s.

The club, based in Leamington Spa, Warkwickshire, ran both adult and junior teams and Candlish was asked to drive the boy home after training and matches.

But unbeknownst to managers, Candlish had a conviction from 1972 for indecent assault.

He also played ‘manipulative mind games’ with the boy and threatened to tell his father if he did not go along with the ‘cynical and compulsive’ abuse.

Candlish, from Coventry, was arrested when the victim plucked up the courage to report the incidents to police many years later.

He admitted five counts of indecent assault on a child and was jailed for five years and three months at Warwick Crown Court on Tuesday.

Sentencing, Judge Peter Cooke said: ‘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.

Candlish admitted five counts of of indecent assault on a child and was jailed for five years and three months at Warwick Crown Court on Tuesday

‘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.’

Prosecutor Stefan Kolodynski said the abuse took place on at least five occasions after he and the boy had played matches or been to football training.

After one game, Candlish stopped on the outskirts of Leamington on the pretence that there was something wrong with the car.

He then leaned over, put his hand on the boy’s groin and touched him indecently.

Mr Kolodynski said the worst incident took place when the boy was 12 in the garden of a house they had visited after a match.

In an isolated part of the land, or after the boy’s parents and other adults had gone inside, Candlish got the boy, who still had his football kit on, onto the ground.

Candlish pulled his shorts down and got the boy to touch him before ‘spooning’ him and simulating intercourse – an ordeal which has remained with the victim 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 him to keep away from his son but did not report the matter.

Many years later, the victim says he was ‘finally able to face up to my demons,’ and go to the police, adding: ‘I am now in the best place in my life.’

When Candlish was arrested, he said it was ‘pure fantasy’ and accused his victim of trying to get compensation.

He later said it was ’99 per cent lies’ but accepted touching him on the fishing trip.

Mr Kolodynski added that as well as his 1972 conviction and these offences, Candlish has 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.’

Candlish was also ordered to register as a sex offender for life.

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