Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Bob Higgins trial: Wife says he was 'never alone' with boys

Bob Higgins Image copyright Solent News & Photo Agency
Image caption Bob Higgins denies molesting 24 boys

The wife of a football coach accused of abusing trainees has told a court he was never alone with children in their house or car.

Bob Higgins is accused of molesting 24 boys, mostly Southampton and Peterborough youth players, between 1971 and 1996. He denies the charges.

Giving evidence at his trial, his wife Shirley said boys stayed at their home before matches or training sessions.

She said she looked after them like a "second mother".

Image caption Shirley Higgins, seen here at her husband's trial last year, has been married for 45 years

Mr Higgins denies 51 counts of indecent assault.

Describing how trainees would stay over at their home, Mrs Higgins said: "It was manic. Everybody wanted to stay. I decided who stayed.

"We would have three or four staying. We never had just one staying."

Asked by defence barrister Alistair MacDonald QC if she ever saw her husband act inappropriately with any boys, Mrs Higgins said: "No. Never. I wouldn't be married to him for 45 years if he had."

"Did he ever put his arm around boys?" Mr MacDonald asked.

Image caption Bob Higgins denies 51 counts of indecent assault between 1971 and 1996

She replied: "Not on the sofa. But on the training pitch yes, when he was consoling them or explaining a move."

Mrs Higgins told jurors some of the complainants who allege they were abused had remained in touch with her and her husband into adulthood.

Under cross-examination she said there was "no reason" for him to be alone with any boys.

"It wasn't that big a house. There were always boys there. They were all in the lounge together," she said.

Asked if she had ever gone to bed before her husband, leaving him alone with any boys staying over, she said: "I have never, never, ever, right up to this present day, gone to bed before my husband."

The trial continues.

Image caption Mr Higgins is being retried at Bournemouth Crown Court

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