Oct 2010

Ex-footballer gets 14 years for child rapes

A FORMER Crawley Town footballer has been jailed for 14 years after a string of sex attacks on young girls.

Lee Turner, who also used to play for Three Bridges FC, was found guilty of three counts of rape and nine counts of sexual assault against girls under the age of 13.

Turner had been entrusted by the victims’ families to look after them when he committed the attacks at sleepovers.

Turner, 39, a former Chelsea youth player, was cleared of a further four charges, following a three-week trial.

He is still protesting his innocence on the 12 counts on which he was convicted.

After his sentencing, a statement was released where Turner’s family said they would not rest until his innocence was proven.

It read: “We believe this case was based upon fabrication and false allegations of the most wicked and spiteful kind which virtually guaranteed a conviction because of their nature.

“In summing up before the jury reached their verdicts the judge stated that Lee was of previous good character who maintained his innocence.

“Witnesses that could have come forward to corroborate Lee’s defence declined to do so, therefore vital material could not be submitted in Lee’s defence.

“This is a matter for their own conscience – but we have no doubt their testimonies would have had a major impact to the defence.”

On three of the charges, Turner was found guilty by a majority verdict, with the jury coming to a unanimous decision on a further nine.

All the offences took place over 18 months between 2007 and 2009.

Judge Michael Lawson told Turner, who lived in Raleigh Walk, Tilgate, until he was charged in November 2009, his actions had shown him for what he really is.

He said: “Attending a sleepover is one of the first steps of gaining independence for a child and you abused your position of trust along with the trust of the parents who believed their children would be safe in your care.”