Chesterfield “entertainer” and swimming teacher who abused boys at Queen’s Park Swimming Pool in the 1970s jailed for 14 years

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A Chesterfield children’s entertainer and swimming teacher sexually abused boys in the changing rooms at Queen’s Park Swimming Pool and in his home in the 1970s.

During swimming lessons George Holden, 88, offered to dry boys in the changing rooms after lessons - performing sex acts on them.

Derby Crown Court heard sick Holden even sexually abused one of the boys while holding him in the water inside the pool.

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He encouraged two young victims - pupils at a school where his wife worked - to visit his home over a period between 1973 and 1978.

George Holden was jailed for 14 yearsGeorge Holden was jailed for 14 years
George Holden was jailed for 14 years

Once there he had both boys perform oral sex on him and had penetrative sex with one of them.

The court heard Holden forced one of the boys to watch pornography and there was a “sex toy” present on another occasion.

Holden gave both boys – aged between 7 and 11 years old – sweets to “keep their mouths shut” and threatened one that if he told anyone he would “hurt his parents” and his friends would “find out he was gay”.

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Prosecutor Julia King described how the pensioner “groomed" and "charmed” both boys' parents.

Derby Crown CourtDerby Crown Court
Derby Crown Court

On one occasion one of the young boys was on holiday in Skegness with his parents at the same time that Holden was performing at a nearby caravan site.

Ms King said Holden “abused (the victim) in his own caravan in the same way that he had at his home address”.

The prosecutor said the young boy had spent time with Holden with his parents “blessing”, adding that they “looked up to him as a celebrity”.

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Both victims – ashamed of what had happened – remained silent about Holden’s abuse until one of them plucked up the courage to approach police in 2018.

However the court heard today entertainer and “clown” Holden had been prosecuted previously for abusing other young boys

In 1961 Holden was convicted for three counts of indecent assault against children at a residential school for the partially-sighted – where he would climb into bed with his victims.

And in 1983, aged 50, Holden was handed a community order with 240 hours’ unpaid work after being convicted of attempted buggery and two indecent assaults against children while working at Queen’s Park Swimming Pool.

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“Predatory paedophile” Holden asked at the time for seven other offences to be taken into consideration – however he kept silent about two of his victims.

Judge Robert Egbuna told him: “The sentence reflects the approach to sentencing for sexual offences in the sixties and eighties.

"I have no doubt that when you were sentenced and you asked for the offences to be taken into consideration it was not lost upon you that you had abused two other young boys in the manner that you did.

"The most serious offending that you did not bring to the court’s attention – and no doubt for very good reason.”

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Judge Egbuna told Holden he “clearly knew” the offences were wrong.

He added: “These offences were committed while your wife was not in the house and teaching.”

Telling Holden “despite your age it is clear to me you are a manipulative individual,” the judge noted while giving evidence Holden had sought to portray himself as “someone who had difficulties with your memory”.

However he added: “It was palpably clear to me you had a very good memory.”

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In statements read out to the court Holden’s victims described feeling “ashamed” of what had happened and struggling with “flashbacks”.

One wrote: “Throughout my childhood I suffered with nightmares and night terrors after George Holden started abusing me.

"I’ve had flashbacks throughout my life and these have escalated since I’ve spoken about what happened to me.

"I found it difficult to make friends at school because of a lack of confidence – all this affected my academic achievement.”

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He described how Holden “groomed and manipulated” the adults around him.

"Because of this I felt I was unable to trust them and disclose what had happened to me,” he said.

The other victim described having to leave the room when TV programmes addressing sexual abuse were on.

He said: “I’ve never really forgotten or overcome those days while in the changing rooms or at his house.”

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Stuart Lody, mitigating for Holden, described how the defendant attended boarding school as a young boy – where he was “introduced to this sort of behaviour.”

Mr Lody said Holden had “said goodbye to his wife”, adding: “He fully expects he will die in prison – probably sooner rather than later.”

Holden, of Ashgate Road, Chesterfield, admitted 17 offences – including 12 counts of indecent assault, two counts of gross indecency with a child and three counts of buggery.

He was jailed for 14 years – meaning 13 years in jail and one year on licence.

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Holden was sentenced according to the “sentencing regime” at the time his offences were committed, said Judge Egbuna.

He was ordered to serve at least three-quarters of his sentence and placed on the sex offenders’ register for life.

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