A FORMER football coach has been jailed for sexually abusing an aspiring Bury footballer.

William Toner, aged 74, of Market Street, Whitworth, was given three years and two months in prison at Bolton Crown Court today (Friday, July 20) after pleading guilty to four counts of indecent assault on a teenage boy during the 1990s.

The court heard how Toner, who was also known as Bill, claimed to be a scout from Manchester City Football Club and had links to clubs in Bury, Rochdale, Oldham and Cambridgeshire.

He first met his victim, an aspiring Bury footballer, by offering one-to-one coaching sessions with him after telling him he had potential.

After the sessions, Toner would inappropriately massage the boy before sexually touching him.

The abuse spanned years and the victim felt he could never tell his family or report the offences to police.

He eventually turned his back on the sport and stopped playing shortly after in a bid to escape the abuse.

However, following national coverage of non-recent sex abuse in football he bravely reported Toner to Manchester City Football Club, who encouraged him to contact the NSPCC in 2016- who in turn contacted Greater Manchester Police.

An investigation code-named Operation Corduroy was launched by police, which spanned nationwide involving partners including the NSPCC, Football Association and local councils.

Detective Sergeant Dave Jones, from GMP’s Operation Corduroy investigation team, said: “This victim dreamed of being a footballer, just like many others, and Toner ripped that dream away from him and made it a living nightmare.

“He used his esteemed position as a football scout to perversely prey on a vulnerable young boy with a promising career ahead of him.

“His abuse was sickening and deplorable and the victim felt he had no other choice but to turn his back on that dream in a bid to escape it.

“Toner robbed him of his childhood and this man has had to endure this pain knowing that Toner was out there all the while walking free.

“His bravery and courage throughout this investigation has been commendable and by taking that first step of reporting his ordeal, he can now see his abuser put behind bars.

“Today is a breakthrough for all victims of this type of offence and we hope that this case has opened the door for others to feel confident in reporting their abuse to police.

“This has been an extensive investigation involving partners nationwide who have all played a crucial part in helping to secure this conviction and I want to also thank them.”

To report child sexual exploitation, call police on 101 or 999 if a child is in immediate danger.

Alternatively, go to itsnotokay.co.uk to find contact details for a local It’s Not Okay team.