A former local sports coach has been jailed for a string of sexual offences against boys as young as 10.
Michael Hunter of Butler Street in Scholes has been sentenced to seven years and four months in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual activity with a child, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and voyeurism.
Sentencing at Bolton Crown Court, Judge Timothy Stead heard how the 32-year-old former football and rugby coach, used his position to prey on young boys, his youngest victim being 10 years old.
Hunter, who was due to stand trial for the charges in February, eventually admitted to sexual activity with a 15-year-old boy as well as the other offences and was sentenced at Bolton Crown Court.
The court heard how the sexual predator, who met his victim when he was coaching in 2009, would pick the teen up in his car and drive him to a secluded spot.
At the time of this offence, Hunter was given an FA banning order from coaching for inappropriate behaviour as neither police, the FA nor those around him knew the full extent of his actions until it was fully reported to police some years later.
Although banned from coaching, Hunter tried several times to work with sports clubs again. He made excuses when asked to provide the appropriate information for background checks.
When he ran out of excuses he would move on to another club.
Seven years later, in 2016, Hunter used social media to send messages and naked photos of himself to a 13-year-old boy, but was discovered by the boy’s father who monitored his young son’s social media accounts and immediately reported it to police.
This investigation led officers to find a video of a 10-year-old boy showering at his house, which was discovered during a search of Hunter’s laptop and phone.
Though Hunter initially denied that he had anything to do with the video, he had started filming as he set the device up, so the video clearly showed his face and his actions as he hid the camera inside a towel.
PC Louise Dunne from GMP’s child sexual exploitation team said: “Michael Hunter preyed on young boys and used his position of trust to get access to them.
“He is a danger to children and is quite rightly going to spend the next seven years and four months behind bars.
“Hunter knew that the boys were under age and he didn’t care, he chose to use them for his own sexual gratification instead of thinking about the physical and emotional abuse he was inflicting on them.
“The victims and their families have been incredibly brave in helping police with this investigation and I can only hope that today’s sentence will provide them with some closure,”
Hunter was given 68 months in jail for sexual activity with a child, 10 months consecutive for inciting a child and a futher 10 months for voyeurism. He was also given a lifetime sexual harm prevention order.
An NSPCC spokesman said: “Hunter is today rightly behind bars for despicable crimes against young children whose parents had entrusted him with their care.
“The NSPCC passionately believes that sport should be as safe as possible for young people and to help achieve that we are campaigning for an extension of “position of trust” laws. Currently it is illegal for professionals like teachers to have sex with 16 and 17 year olds in their care.
“We want to see these laws extended to sports coaches and other youth workers who can have considerable influence over our children.
“It is vital that we do all we can to prevent potential opportunities for manipulation and grooming from predators.”
Anyone with concerns about the wellbeing of a child can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000. Children can contact Childline with any concerns on 0800 11 11.
Anyone who believes they have been a victim of a sexual offence should call police on 101.
For information about child sexual exploitation visit www.itsnotokay.co.uk