Senior player who regularly abused a youngster at a Leamington football club in the 1970s has been jailed

The court heard he had a history of sexual offending against children stretching over 50 years

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 11:02 am

A senior player who regularly abused a youngster at a Leamington football club in the 1970s has a history of sexual offending against children stretching over 50 years.

And David Candlish was jailed for five years and three months after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to five charges of indecent assault on a child.

Candlish (74) of Spon End, Coventry, who has similar previous convictions and has already served an eight-year sentence, was also ordered to register as a sex offender for life.

David Candlish

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

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

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

And 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 took place when the boy was 12 in the garden of a house where they had gone after a match.

In an isolated part of the garden, 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 the victim says has remained with him for life.

The final incident took place when they went fishing and Candlish pulled the boy’s shorts down and touched him, when 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 - then 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. Fortunately for him, the last sentence he had would seem to have had some impact on him.”

And Miss Allen 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.”

Following the sentencing, investigating officer Det Con Sara Skinner from Warwickshire Police said: “Thanks to the victim’s courage in coming forward, once these offences were reported to police we were able to investigate, and Candlish will now face justice for his actions.

"I hope this case reassures anyone who may have been a victim of sexual abuse, either non-recent or current, that Warwickshire Police is committed to providing help and support to victims and bringing offenders to justice. We will always thoroughly investigate, no matter when the abuse took place. There is help and support out there, so please don't suffer in silence.

"Anyone who has been the victim of a sexual offence is encouraged to report the incident to police by calling 101, where specially trained officers will help victims with care and sensitivity, and will work to get the right result for them with their wishes in mind. Always call 999 in an emergency.

"There are a number of services available to people affected by sexual offences in Warwickshire. Click here for more information."