Football club ‘appalled’ by sex offences of former chairman
PUBLISHED: 10:29 12 September 2019 | UPDATED: 10:33 12 September 2019
Archant Norfolk 2015
The football club which sex abuser Shane Vertigan was chairman of has labelled his actions “appalling” and has hit out at online trolls in the wake of his conviction.
Vertigan, 49, of Fakenham, was given six years' jail on Monday for sexually assaulting a girl between the ages of 13-15.
Once known as the "singing traffic warden", Vertigan had been considered a upstanding community member, who had also worked as a PCSO and was chairman of Hindringham Footbal Club (HFC).
At the sentencing in Ipswich, Judge David Goodin said he had been "an outwardly decent member of society concealing a dark and ugly secret."
Carl Wilkins took over as HFC's chairman after Vertigan resigned in March, and said the club's committee were unaware of Vertigan's crimes when he was there.
Mr Wilkins said in a statement: "Neither I nor any present member of the football club's committee were aware of the offences for which he was committed or of a further conviction of a sex assault in February 2012.
"We are appalled by his behaviour.
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"We are aware of Shane's conviction on Monday, September 9 and in no way should this statement be considered condonation of the acts of criminal behaviour of which Shane Vertigan has been convicted."
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Mr Wilkins went on to slam online trolls who had attacked the club since Vertigan had been sentenced, and threatened legal action if the attacks continued.
He said: "Following Shane Vertigan's conviction there have been irrational statements made on social media labelled against HFC by ill-informed individuals who appear to have another agenda and that is to tarnish the club's good reputation.
"If any further written defamatory statements are made then legal action will be taken."
During the trial, the court heard how Vertigan had become obsessed with the girl, who was more than 20 years younger his junior, and had used grooming behaviour "to get her to where he wanted her to be."
After the case, a Norfolk police spokesman said: ""However his behaviour falls woefully short of anything we would ever expect or the public expects of a former employee. The victim deserves our praise and heartfelt gratitude for having the courage to come forward and tell us what happened."
He also had a previous conviction in May 2013 for a sex assault on a 22-year-old woman in February 2012.