Paedo referee back in jail after illegally officiating kids football match

A convicted paedophile has returned to prison for 16 months after he was seen refereeing a children's football match.

Roman Fletcher, 21, was involved in an under 14s game and was also spotted playing footie with some of the youngsters.

He was told to leave, returned for a second time and was ordered by a coach to go.

But he came back and police intervened and arrested him.

The man, formerly known as Peter Burns, appeared at Liverpool Crown Court, where it was revealed that he has a history of grooming youngsters as a sports coach.

He was previously convicted of five counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity in 2017 and 2019 after using his role as a wrestling referee and announcer to target victims.

But after his release from prison, he used his training as an official to get close to kids again.

Fletcher was spotted by FA coach Natalie Pinnington, who coaches girls under-14s team Brookvale United in Warrington, Cheshire.

The court heard Ms Pinnington had worked with Fletcher when he was 14 or 15, because he refereed games she was involved in.

But she hadn't seen him for a number of years and knew he wasn't allowed to work with children and that she should contact the FA if she saw him at youth football pitches.

During a game at Orford Jubilee Neighbourhood Hub last September, she saw him give offside decisions and then go on to talk with a six-year-old spectator.

She also saw him having a kick about with a group of youths aged around 10 to 12.

The following month, he returned to the leisure centre and was again seen by the coach at the side of a pitch.

He was told to leave and did so, but returned at the end and went in goal for a football game with children aged between eight and 13.

The quick-thinking coach took a picture of the offender and then contacted the Football Association.

Sentencing, recorder Ian Harris said: “It's a persistent breach that may, and in my judgement would have led to harm.

“You were cunning and deceptive in your actions when you breached the order on those three occasions, and you knew full well what you were doing.

“I have no doubt a future form of paedophile offending would have occurred.”

If you or somebody you know has been affected by this story, contact Victim Support for free, confidential advice on 08 08 16 89 111 or visit their website, www.victimsupport.org.uk.

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