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Rehabilitation order on groper coach.

Byline: Gemma Collins

A TABLE tennis coach who indecently assaulted young girls was yesterday made subject to a three-year community rehabilitation order.

Taxi driver Alan Burton's work included taking youngsters to and from table tennis lessons at which he was an instructor, Cardiff Crown Court was told.

Two girls he was taking to a lesson at Bridgend YMCA complained when they got home that Burton had touched them improperly, said Hywel Hughes, prosecuting.

As news of the allegations spread through the community, more girls came forward to complain of similar experiences.

Burton, 54, of Dannis Close, Briton Ferry, South Wales, pleaded guilty to eight counts of indecent assault.

Mr Hughes said most of the seven victims were aged between eight and 10.

Five girls complained that Burton had touched their legs, while one said he often cuddled her.

Mr Hughes said, 'The persons in authority in table tennis had indicated to him, because of his over-friendliness, what was acceptable behaviour and what was not.'

The court was shown a home video of Burton participating in 'tickling games' with a girl aged about 10.

He was also shown smacking her on the bottom and encouraging her to do the same to him.

Hugh Wallace, defending, said of Burton, 'He is a sad, dirty old man'.

He went on, 'Mr Burton is a touchy- feely groper who has never done anything else other than just touch, but not in the most private parts.'

Burton, who is now a carer for a 72-year-old man, had lost his job as a taxi driver and was no longer able to coach table tennis, said Mr Wallace.

He said Burton had been a successful coach, teaching 250 children including three Welsh champions.

'Twenty-five years ago, this man would not have been prosecuted,' said Mr Wallace.

'All of us have come across people in our lives who have behaved in this way, a lot of them school teachers doing an excellent job but who often had their hands in the wrong place at an inappropriate time.'

Judge Roderick Denyer QC said all the offences tended towards, or were at the bottom end of the scale, of the offence of indecent assault.

But the judge added, 'In my view, you do require a degree of help in bringing yourself to fully understand the world in which we now live, where this type of behaviour is no longer regarded as accepted.'

He gave Burton a three-year community rehabilitation order, with a condition that he should attend a community sex-offender group work programme.

Burton was also ordered to register as a sex offender for five years.

The judge ordered that 13 other charges of indecent assault should lie on the file.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 22, 2003
Words:451
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