A football coach has been jailed for 15 years and 10 months for sexually abusing children he “obsessively” pursued on social media and bribed.
Alfie Morel, 24, of Tidcombe Green, Havant, Hampshire, was sentenced at Portsmouth Crown Court after being convicted of nine child sex abuse charges against three boys and a girl.
A Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) spokesman said: “Morel manipulated the children so that they would trust and admire him, but then started to obsessively message them on social media and threatened suicide if they did not do what he wanted them to do.
“He took advantage of their interests and hobbies by playing video games with them, engaging with them on social media and setting up private chat groups, play-fighting, and even offered the opportunity to be captain of a football team in return for sexual favours.”
Hampshire Police launched an investigation after a 12-year-old boy said Morel sent him sexual messages on Instagram and Snapchat in March 2021.
Three more victims, two boys aged 12 and 13 and a 14-year-old girl, also came forward.
A force spokeswoman said the victims were abused over several months in 2020 and 2021.
Sentencing Morel, Judge Richard Shepherd said: “Their bravery stands in stark contrast to your selfishness and your cowardice. You groomed and in some cases sexually abused them for the purposes of your own sexual gratification.
“You lied, you manipulated, you coerced, you bribed and you cajoled – all for your own sexual pleasure. They looked up to you and the betrayal is palpable.”
Detective Constable Jennifer Dalziel said: “The victims in this case have been incredibly courageous in both speaking to the police and giving evidence in court.
“The police and the CPS would not have been able to prosecute Morel had it not been for the bravery of the victims coming forward. We would like to thank them for speaking to us and trusting us to help them.
“I sincerely hope this sentence begins to bring some closure to those Morel affected, and that it helps others who have suffered similar abuse to find the confidence to come forward and speak to police knowing their voices will be heard.”
Morel was convicted of attempted rape, two counts of sexual communication with a child, three counts of sexual assault of a child under 13, causing or inciting a child into sexual activity, and engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.
He also pleaded guilty to sexual communication with the 14-year-old girl. He was cleared of the rape of a child under 13.
Morel also faces an additional year on licence and will be subject to an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order on his release from prison.