An internationally recognised gymnastics coach from New Cross was given a suspended sentence after admitting sexually abusing young girls in his charge over a 40-year period.
Bob Bellew, 66, admitted eight of the 17 charges against him, seven being indecent assault and one sexual touching. The remainder was left to lie on the file.
He was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years. He was also made subject of a Sexual Offence Prevention Order [SOPO].
Bellew was said to have been “shaking uncontrollably” during the hearing and demonstrated “genuine remorse.”
He had been a gymnastics coach in London schools for more than 40 years, including in New Cross where he taught in the early 1970s and formed a gymnastics club. Five of the victims date from that period.
Bellew was later chief coach of Tower Hamlets Schools Gymnastics and Dance Display Team. He was awarded the ‘Order of the Smile’, an award established by a Polish magazine and recognised by the United Nations for adults ‘distinguished in their love, care and aid of children.’
Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Child Abuse Investigation Team began inquiries into Bellew’s case in early 2011 after some of the victims came forward.
Bellew was arrested in December 2011 and bailed to return pending further inquiries, before being arrested again after new allegations surfaced.
Prosecutor Rekha Kodikara told Snaresbrook Crown Court said the allegations related to offences firstly in the 1970s and then in the 1990s and early 2000s.
She said: ‘The offences would not have occurred but for the position of trust held by the defendant as a gymnastics coach, which gave him access to the victims who were young and therefore vulnerable.’
Detective Constable Lewi Fenton of the MPS Child Abuse Investigation Team said: “We must pay tribute to Bellew’s victims who had the courage to come forward. His abuse has affected them into their adult lives.”
He added: “Bellew taught at schools across the capital, and it is possible that he abused other victims who have not yet come forward.”
The MPS team is urging anyone with more information on Bellew to contact their local police or the MPS on 101.