Fury as Tower Hamlets gym coach sex abuser walks free

Bob Bellew, who preyed on young girls he coached over a 40 year period

Bob Bellew, who preyed on young girls he coached over a 40 year period - Credit: Central

An internationally-renowned gym coach who preyed on teenage girls he trained in Tower Hamlets has walked free - prompting outrage from his victims.

Bob Bellew, 66, enjoyed a distinguished career as a gymnastics coach, 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”. But for decades he was preying on girls he was tutoring.

Bellew admitted to eight of the 17 charges against him, but was spared jail at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

In a joint statement, his victims said: “This shows everything that is wrong with the British justice system. He has had to live with this for two or three years, but the victims have had it hanging over them their whole lives.

“You get six months in prison for taking your husband’s speeding points, but you’re allowed to touch a child under their clothes and you get a suspended sentence.”

Bellew touched the private parts and rubbed the thighs of seven girls – some as young as six - between 1970 and 2010.

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Two teenage victims were abused when he was a chief coach in Tower Hamlets, from the mid-1990s to 2010.

Handing New Cross resident Bellew a 15-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and a ban from working with children, Judge Joanna Korner said: “It does seem to me that this is a case where the punishment has in effect already begun, in the effect this had on you, for the loss of your standing and the strain of waiting to find out what would happen.”

This case was one where “punishment may be tempered with mercy”, she added.