Doncaster football coach found guilty of cruelty against child is given suspended sentence

During a hearing at Sheffield Crown Court this afternoon, Recorder Richard Wright QC sentencedColin Ford, 55,to two years in prison, suspended for two years and ordered him to complete 250 hours of unpaid work.
During a hearing at Sheffield Crown Court this afternoon, Recorder Richard Wright QC sentencedColin Ford, 55,to two years in prison, suspended for two years and ordered him to complete 250 hours of unpaid work.

A Doncaster football coach found guilty of cruelty against a child under the age of 16 has been given a suspended prison sentence.

During a hearing at Sheffield Crown Court this afternoon, Recorder Richard Wright QC sentenced Colin Ford, 55, to two years in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered him to complete 250 hours of unpaid work.

Ford, of Tenter Lane, Warmsworth was found guilty of one charge of cruelty to a person aged under 16 between March 31, 1990 and March 31, 1997, following a three-day trial that concluded on June 15 this year.

The jury also acquitted him of one count of inflicting grievous bodily harm and of another of indecent assault on a male person.

All of the charges Ford was accused of relate to allegations made by the same person.

Referring to evidence given during the trial, Recorder Wright told the court how Ford had 'regularly assaulted' his victim using his hands, and 'on occasion, using a belt buckle to beat him'.

Prosecuting, Paul O'Shea, told the court that Ford's victim had described how his offending had impacted on his life first as a child, and then as an adult, through a victim personal statement.

Mr O'Shea told the court: "He says the effect of that childhood experience has been immeasurable.

"Throughout his life he has been plagued by depression and anxiety."

He added: "He's never really been in a relationship with anyone because of various issues."

Kevin Jones, defending, said: "While these offences and the impact on the victim have been significant, they are now 20-years-old.

"There is no suggestion that that sort of behaviour has been repeated and those references relate to children, step-children and indeed, grandchildren. There is no apparent intervention from social services."

Mr Jones continued by saying that Ford's conviction would most likely impact on his ama coaching career, which had seen him train people in both football and rugby in the Stainforth area of the town.

Recorder Wright told Ford that his offending had 'crossed the custody threshold,' but said he could suspend the sentence, due to the way Ford had conducted himself since he committed the offences he was convicted of.

He said: "You've not offended, you've worked hard and you have made positive contributions in your community.

"Those are the factors that persuade me that I can suspend the sentence."