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COACH LOSES ALL; Man admits indecent assaults on girls.

Byline: Liz Keen

A TABLE tennis coach whose own barrister called him a dirty old man, has escaped a jail sentence after admitting indecently assaulting seven young girls.

Alan Burton, 54, who has trained three Welsh table tennis champions, liked young girls, especially those aged around eight to 10.

And his jobs as a coach in the Bridgend area and as a school taxi driver brought him into contact with them.

He liked to touch their legs, squeeze their knees and cuddle them and once made a video of himself and a 10-year-old as he lifted her skirt and playfully slapped her bottom, Cardiff Crown Court heard.

But he never put his hands anywhere he really shouldn't, his bar-rister Huw Wallace claimed. ``He's just a sad, dirty old man who 25 years ago would never have been prosecuted. All of us have come across men like him who put their hands in the wrong place. He has never taken it further.''

Burton, who now lives in Dannis Close, Briton Ferry, was arrested last year after one of the table tennis pupils told her mother she didn't want a lift with him any more because he touched her legs.

The table tennis authorities were said to have already spoken to him about being over familiar.

Hywel Hughes, prosecuting, said: ``The police searched his home and found a video he had made almost 20 years ago of himself and a little girl.''

He added: ``He has lost his job as a taxi driver, his good name and his reputation.

``After teaching more than 250 children, including champions, he can't coach table tennis any more and has to sign on the sex offenders reg i s t e r.''

Judge Roderick Denyer QC told Burton he had decided he did not have to jail him because the offences he admitted had none of the usual hallmarks of children being undressed or forced into sex acts.

He said: ``This is a case of inappropriate touching and you will attend a sex offenders programme as part of a three-year rehabilitation course.''

He will also be on the sex offenders' register for the next five years.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 22, 2003
Words:360
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