Shotley: Ex-soccer boss avoids jail for sexually touching boys

A FORMER football club manager and chairman who lured teenage boys to his home and groped them after giving them alcohol and cigarettes has walked free from court after being given a suspended prison sentence.

John Paul Card, 63, invited youngsters to his home in Queensland, Shotley where he touched their bottoms and tried to kiss them, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Card, who has a long association with Shotley Rose FC, including being the club’s groundsman, also sent one of his victims a text message saying he loved him and then sent an abusive message when he did not reply, said Naomi Turner, prosecuting.

Card admitted 12 offences of sexual touching five boys aged 14 to 16 between December 2005 and November 2010. Passing a suspended sentence order Judge John Devaux described Card as a “lonely individual” whose principal contact with the outside world was the football club.

He said Card, who is the sole carer for his elderly parents, was 45 years older than his victims. “There is an element of encouragement here in that these boys were encouraged to go to your home by the availability of alcohol, cigarettes and sometimes money in order to purchase these things,” said the judge.

He said although he had to pass a prison sentence he was able to suspend the ten-month sentence for two years. He ordered Card to be under supervision for two years and to attend an accredited programme.He was also ordered to pay �300 costs and ordered to sign on the sex offenders’ register for ten years.

Miss Turner said that when the boys went to Card’s house they were given alcohol and cigarettes and there had been sexual banter.

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He had told the boys he was gay and had been “touchy-feely” with them and had touched their bottoms and genitals over their clothing and tried to kiss them.

One boy told police Card had touched his bottom while he stood in the club’s dugout during a football match

Steven Dyble, for Card, handed in eight references and said his client had served his local community well over a number of years. He said when Card was confronted with the offences he had made full admissions and pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity sparing his victims the ordeal of giving evidence.

Mr Dyble said Card looked after his elderly parents and suffered from ill health including high blood pressure, diabetes and depression. “He leads a pretty lonely existence and his one avenue of contact with the outside world was the football club,” he added.