David Hughes, 66 of King Henry’s Drive, New Addington, was convicted at Croydon Crown Court of 14 offences against four boys aged between eight and 15.
He was found guilty of ten counts of indecent assault on three boys aged 8 to 13, two counts of sexual activity with a boy aged 13 to 15 and two counts of causing the same boy aged 13 to 15 to engage in sexual activity.
The first ten offences took place between 1988 and 1995, when Hughes was employed as a youth worker at youth clubs in New Addington and worked as a voluntary football coach. Further offences were committed in 2017 and 2018 independently of his employment.
On three occasions he had bought the boys football tops or football boots before indecently assaulting them. He groomed one boy by treating him to a trip to the cinema to see Jurassic Park in 1993 as well as giving him attention and other gifts. He indecently assaulted another boy while on an organised camping trip.
Detective Constable Pete Brewster, from Central Specialist Crime, said: “In committing these offences Hughes demonstrated premeditated, predatory behaviour spanning almost 30 years.
“Hughes worked as a youth worker and children’s football coach in New Addington throughout the 1980s and 1990s, seeking employment and other opportunities that granted him access to children. He should have been someone the children, and their families, could trust. Hughes betrayed this trust, abusing vulnerable children who described feeling unable, ashamed and embarrassed to tell anyone what he had done to them.
“Those who suffered at the hands of Hughes in the 1990s describe how his offending continues to affect them today and say their reports to police in 2018 and 2019 were an important step in ‘moving on’ with their lives.
“It is only through the bravery of all of the victims in this case to report the abuse they suffered and support the police investigation that Hughes has been convicted of these offences.
“If you have been the victim of abuse, no matter how long ago, please report it to police so we can help you.“
Hughes was arrested on 21 December 2018. He had with him a black holdall with children’s underwear inside. More items of new underwear were found during a search of his address.
He was charged on 28 February 2020.
Hughes was remanded in custody to be sentenced, provisionally on Thursday, 25 November.