Former football coach cleared of sexually assaulting boy

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A former Crewe Alexandra youth coach has been cleared of sexually abusing a teenage boy.

Paul McCann was found not guilty of four counts of indecent assault on Thursday, a spokesman for Chester Crown Court said.

The jury took one hour and 40 minutes to reach their verdicts.

Not guilty verdicts for two other counts of indecent assault were returned earlier in the week following directions from the judge.

Paul McCann court case
Paul McCann, a former football coach at Crewe Alexandra, was found not guilty (Peter Byrne/PA)

He was alleged to have carried out the abuse on a trip abroad, then at his home in Crewe and after games at a local squash club.

But Mr McCann, of Great Sutton, Cheshire, told the jury he became a “surrogate father” to the youngster, who had a difficult home life, “spoiling” him by paying for holidays and taking him on football tours.

In police interviews, Mr McCann said he had offered to take the teenager on a skiing holiday because the family had fallen on hard times.

He said: “It was innocent. It never crossed my mind. I was like a friend of the family. I took a bit of pity, they looked like they needed help.”

He broke down in tears while giving evidence during the trial and said he felt “scared, angry, shocked” when police put the allegations to him.

He told the jury he had been clearing out his mother’s house after her death seven weeks ago when he found an envelope of press cuttings about his appearances in court.

He said: “I knew she would see stuff, so I explained to my mother what was going on and reassured her. It upsets me because she passed away not knowing.”

The court heard the married father-of-two had never been in trouble with police before and had no criminal record.

He told the jury that as a football-mad teenager he started a youth supporters football team at Crewe Alexandra that became the club’s youth team.

He went on to take his FA badges and became part-time coach of the under-16s team.

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