A FOOTBALL coach has been banned from working with children after being found guilty of asking a boy to take part in a sex act in exchange for cigarettes.
Chris Garrett, a former Blackpool FC assistant community officer, was working at Fleetwood Town FC when the allegations surfaced.
Preston Crown Court heard Garrett was employed as a community development officer to organise youth football coaching in the summer holidays when the offence on the 13-year-old boy took place.
Judge Heather Lloyd said: “For many years you were trusted by the local community. For many years you did a good job. But you of all people must have realised that if you crossed the line from coaching and caring to predatory behaviour that all that hard work would be jeopardised.”
The court heard the 46-year-old had spotted the boy was a good football player and had invited him along to the sessions in August 2009.
Garrett, of Lower Lune Street, Fleetwood, offered cigarettes to the child before propositioning him in his office on August 26.
The court heard the victim refused the defendant’s offer. Garrett then told him he was only joking and threw a cigarette at him.
Later that day the boy told a friend what had happened and the police were called.
Kevin Donnelly, defending, said: “No physical offence took place. This is a man who is already suffering as a result of the trial. Football coaching has been an enormous part of his life for the last decade.
“It is an enormous loss to him to know he will never be able to engage in this activity.”
Judge Lloyd sentenced Garrett to 12 months in prison suspended for two years. He was disqualified from working with children and placed on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.
She added: “There was clearly an element of grooming. The young boy who had gone to your coaching came from a difficult background.
He was all the more vulnerable because of his situation.
“You offered him cigarettes, you asked him inappropriate questions and then you incite him into this sexual activity in the office. You asked him to do this sexual act. It must have been very distressing.”
But Garrett, who has a teenage son, continues to profess his innocence.
Outside court, he said: “I’ve always denied it. It’s very depressing. I might appeal the conviction.”