Interest in teenager was innocent, says ex-football coach on trial for abuse

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A former Crewe Alexandra FC youth coach told police his interest in a teenage boy was “innocent” and that he was seen as a “genuinely nice person”.

Paul McCann, 57, is accused of grooming the youngster to sexually abuse him while he was a football coach at the club, Chester Crown Court heard.

The defendant, of Great Sutton, Cheshire, denies six counts of indecent assault between November 1987 and November 1990.

McCann told police after his arrest that he first met the boy’s family on holiday abroad and they got on “like a house on fire” and kept in touch back in the UK.

He said he became a “surrogate father” to the youngster, who had a difficult home life, “spoiling” him by paying for holidays and taking him on football tours, the court heard.

On Monday as the trial entered its second week, the jury heard what he told police as he was questioned over the allegations.

McCann told detectives the family were “on their uppers” and had fallen on “hard times”, so he agreed to take the youngster on a skiing holiday with the agreement of his mother.

“She saw me as somebody, as a genuinely nice person to help out,” McCann told the detectives.

Police asked if it was “normal” that a man, then in his mid 20s, should go on holiday with a 15-year-old boy alone, six months after meeting him.

McCann replied: “It was innocent. It never crossed my mind. I was like a friend of the family. I took a bit of pity, they looked like they needed help.”

McCann, who worked as a part-time youth coach for the under-16s team at Crewe, is accused of regularly abusing the youngster, first on the skiing trip, then at his home in Crewe and after games at a local squash club.

He told police no sexual activity took place between them.

McCann said while the youngster was “not a shrinking violet” and could hold his own on a football pitch, he was not good enough for the youth team and was only used as a substitute.

He told police: “He was never destined to play for Crewe Alexandra. I did not hold his career in my hand or anything.”

McCann told officers he was effectively a victim of false claims when a wave of allegations were being made against football clubs and coaches.

The trial continues.

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