Detective slams sex abusing Tower Hamlets gym coach’s sentence
PUBLISHED: 17:00 20 April 2013
A detective has slammed the sentence given to a gym coach who preyed on girls he taught - warning it means victims of sex abuse will be reluctant to come forward in future.
Det Con Lewi Fenton said the decision to spare 66-year-old Bob Bellew a jail sentence would make victims question whether it was worth the trauma of speaking out.
“It makes our job 10 times harder, because why would people come forward now?” asked Det Con Fenton, who pursued the investigation.
“If I say to people ‘come forward’, they will say ‘what’s the point, because look at the sentence’.
“I cannot see how they can marry up that sentence with other sentences that have been passed with the severity of the offence”, he added.
Victims expressed shock after Bellew avoided a custodial sentence, despite admitting to eight out of 17 charges against him, with the judge claiming the damage to his reputation and standing meant his punishment had already begun.
They are now considering appealing the sentence in a bid to bring closure to their ordeal.
The offences spanned a 40 year period, during which time he had enjoyed a distinguished career as a gymnastics tutor, and was the chief coach of the Tower Hamlets Schools Gymnastics and Dance Display Team.
The former Community Coach of the Year served on 2012 Olympic planning committees, and was even awarded a UN-recognised citation for adults “distinguished in their love, care and aid of children”. Bellew’s victims echoed Det Con Fenton’s concerns over the difficulty of persuading people to report such offences to the police.
They warn that if they had known he would escape jail, they would have been unlikely to pursue the allegations.
One said: “If anything like that happened again I would be so reluctant to go to the police. It’s been so much pressure.
“I feel like I have done it for nothing. We’ve gone to court but we are in the same position as before”, she said.
A second victim told of the difficulty she faced in pursuing the claims.
“Going to the police was daunting for me”, she said.
“People thought I was wrong, and said I was out of order because Bellew’s done so much for the community.
“At least four adults knew about it, and three of those worked in a school.
“Why would they want to come forward when nothing is going to be done? Why would they put themselves through that?”
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