Ipswich: Victim’s anger as rapist PE teacher appeals against conviction

Stephen Benson

Stephen Benson

DISGRACED former running coach Stephen Benson has submitted an appeal against his conviction for sex assaults on three teenagers.

The ex-Copleston High School PE teacher is also considering appealing against his 16-year jail sentence imposed by Ipswich Crown Court last Thursday, his legal team have said.

One of Benson’s victims today told of her fury at the appeal.

“I would be devastated if he did get an appeal against sentence and if an appeal affects the conviction or sentencing because I feel the sentence he has got is just for the crime he committed,” she said.

“Anything less I could not even think about.”

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Although an appeal has been lodged by the 50-year-old his solicitor declined to elaborate on the specific nature of the objection to his conviction.

Sue Threadkell, of Saunders, Goodin and Riddleston in Ipswich, said: “We have lodged an appeal against conviction and are considering an appeal against sentence.”

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The appeal against conviction was lodged with Ipswich Crown Court as it was the court where Benson’s trial was held. The matter will be forwarded to the Royal Courts of Justice in London where the submission will be considered.

Benson, of Pearsons Way, Copdock, was found guilty last month of nine offences of rape, six indecent assaults, two sex assaults and two charges of sexual activity with a child.

The victims were aged between 15 and 18 and the earliest offence dated back to the 1980s.

Benson was found not guilty of two rape offences. He had denied all 21 charges.

One of the UK’s top youth athletics coaches, Benson, of Pearsons Way, Copdock, groomed and sexually abused three teenage running proteges at various times over a period spanning 20 years.

Judge David Goodin described Benson’s crimes as a “terrible catalogue of abuse.”

The judge told him: “Over the years you ruthlessly and repeatedly betrayed the trust of parents and daughters, callously and adroitly exploiting the relationship between you and parents and between you and the child and between the child and parents.”

Speaking after Benson’s sentencing, investigating officer Det Con Wendy Leah said: “Stephen Benson was in a privileged position of trust when he committed these offences, and had gained the friendship and trust of his victims and their families, before he abused them in this manner.

“He was carrying out these offences over a period of 20 years, and at separate times, he became a significant part of each of the young victim’s lives.

“The victims involved in this case have been extremely brave in coming forward and re-living these events in order to achieve justice.”

After Benson was convicted in March Margaret Leek, chairman of Ipswich Harriers, said: “Protecting children and vulnerable adults from any kind of harm is a priority for Ipswich Harriers and we have thorough and comprehensive safeguarding arrangements in place.

“As soon as these allegations were brought to our and UK Athletics’ attention, Stephen Benson’s UK Athletics coaching licence was suspended with immediate effect. From that point forward he had no further contact with children involved in the club.”

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