January 2023

Kids football coach convicted of more sex offences

A former children’s football coach has been convicted of further sexual offences committed against young boys in Burgess

Robert Michael Blackmore, known then as Mike Blackmore, was a volunteer coach in Burgess Hill during the 1990s.

He was convicted in 2004 for 11 counts of indecent assault on boys in the early 1990s, and was jailed for seven years.

Upon his release, Blackmore changed his name to Michael O’Neill.

In 2020, a new victim came forward with allegations, and Blackmore attended a voluntary interview to answer the further questions.

At Lewes Crown Court on January 13, Blackmore, 71, of High Street, Stockbridge, Hampshire, admitted six further charges of indecent assault on a boy in the early 1990s.

Dale Sullivan, prosecuting, told the court how Blackmore had groomed the victim by taking him on football trips such as to visit Old Trafford for a match between Manchester United and Brighton and Hove Albion.

Blackmore met the victim through the youth football, and then claimed to offer the victim work in his electronics business.

But while alone, Blackmore indecently assaulted the victim. This included while on trips away from his family, and in his car in isolated locations.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, described the impact on his family and himself, with the impact of anxiety, nervousness and depression.

“The effects of this abuse will never go away, and came close to destroying my family.” he said.

The victim says the abuse has left him with trauma, and described Blackmore as a “coward” and a “predator”.

His Honour Judge David Rennie sentenced Blackmore to a further six and a half years in prison for the historic offences.


July 2004

Pervert boss jailed for seven years

Paedophile Robert Blackmore has been jailed for seven years for abusing young boys.

His sentence amounts to a year for each of the children he preyed upon.

The mother of one of his victims said: “He should have got life in prison. Our lives have been torn apart.

“Our children are not the same children any more. He took away their innocence. They will never be the same. We have got this for life.

“We are the ones who will have to live with the pain and agony.”

The perverted businessman hid behind a facade of respectability to befriend the youngsters’ parents before luring the boys with cash, gifts and holidays.

His cycle of abuse lasted more than 20 years.

A three-times married family man, Blackmore appeared a pillar of society.

He ran a successful communications company and, through his passion for football, generously sponsored teams across Sussex.

But he would plot ways to be alone with his victims, using his standing in society to build up a trusting relationship with their parents.

Blackmore, a former football referee, would offer the boys work with his business and take them around the country, staying the night in hotels.

He also lured boys on holidays to Cyprus where he would abuse them.

One boy was targeted while Blackmore drove his car along country lanes.

He offered to pay two boys cash for every time they let him slap their bare bottoms.

Blackmore’s life as an evil predator came to an end when a 14-year-old victim who said he had been abused at least 50 times confided in a neighbour and then told his parents.

When Press reports of Blackmore’s arrest appeared, other victims came forward.

Blackmore, of Shelley Wood, Burgess Hill, had faced 30 charges, including eight of rape and 22 of indecent assault, on seven boys between the ages of 11 and 15.

Then on the day his trial was due to start at Lewes Crown Court the prosecution accepted his guilty pleas to 17 offences of indecent assault between 1980 and his arrest in November last year.

His guilty pleas meant the boys escaped the trauma of reliving the abuse they suffered in court.

Judge Richard Brown told Blackmore: “You have been a serial abuser of young boys for many years.

“Your method of operation was to befriend and ingratiate yourself with the boys’ families and gain their confidence.

“You bestowed favours and gifts on young boys and, through manipulation, your being alone with them was seen by their families as natural and acceptable.

“This behaviour was both criminal and evil. Your behaviour will have blighted the lives of the boys and their families for many years.”

On his release Blackmore, who has no previous convictions, will be the subject of a further three-year period on extended licence.

He was ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for the rest of his life and he is banned for life from working with children.

Michael Warren, prosecuting, told how Blackmore would befriend his victims’ parents with offers of work, gifts of money and holidays.

He said: “He certainly did become very trusted by the families of the boys. He appeared to be a pillar of the community and respectable.”

The four boys involved in the more recent cases had been offered work by Blackmore helping him replace industrial batteries at business premises around the country.

Mr Warren said the mother of one of his victims became concerned after her son received a 12th birthday card from Blackmore containing a £10 note. When she confronted him at his home he initially denied he knew the boy. Later he visited her home and admitted he did.

The family then became friendly, with both the mother and father being offered work. He would call at their home up to three times a week to drop in for a cup of tea and told them he had been a foster carer.

When the couple got into debt he helped them out financially and gave presents to their son.

Mr Warren said: “He appeared to them to be a good person, someone they could trust.”

The father of another victim was so suspicious of Blackmore’s intentions he contacted social services.

But the boy’s mother assured social workers Blackmore was a decent man and nothing improper was going on.

The older cases mainly involved boys whose parents met Blackmore while he was an insurance agent for the Prudential.

One of his victims, now 36, has suffered from mental illness.

He was abused while sitting on Blackmore’s lap in his car.

Another boy, now 29, attended an exhibition in London.

Blackmore got him to telephone his parents and lie that his car had broken down in order to have an excuse to stay with the boy in a hotel.

He also took the boy, a Spurs fan, to away matches. Again, his parents had no suspicions.

The court heard that when Blackmore was first interviewed by police he admitted sexual behaviour had been going on between himself and boys.

He told detectives: “I cannot see anything wrong if it is a mutual thing.”

He said he had considered trying to get help but felt he could not go to his doctor and admit he was a paedophile because he feared the police would be alerted.

Jeremy Gold, QC, defending, said Blackmore felt remorse.

He said: “He brings shame on his wife and family.

“He had a certain standing and regard in the community which is, of course, now shattered as a result of his own actions.”

Mr Gold said Blackmore had been generous in his sponsorship of local football teams, including giving one adult club £20,000.

He said: “He has tried to help people though his own good fortune, although any good he has done will now be overshadowed by what he has committed.”

Mr Gold said Blackmore’s successful business, which employed seven people, would continue to operate while he served his sentence.