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Former Cheerleading Coach, Tom Walsh, Convicted Of Abusing Young Girls

Tom Walsh was sentenced at Bolton Crown Court on 5th February, having admitted to a number of sexual offences against three girls, the offences taking place between 2011 and 2020. In total, Walsh was found guilty of 28 charges regarding sexual offences and the possession and distribution of child abuse images.

Following his conviction, Walsh received a 15 year custodial sentence and will serve a further 5 years on licence. In addition to this, he has been made subject to a lifetime sexual harm prevention order.

Walsh was a cheerleader and assisted with the teaching and coaching of children how to cheerlead. Notably, he came into contact with two of his victims via this coaching role, exploiting the trust placed in him and grossly misusing his position of authority. Walsh also groomed a number of other girls online, obtaining abuse images from them.

The scale of Walsh’s abuse was uncovered following an extensive investigation by Greater Manchester Police, during which it was established that he had sexual interest in young girls and numerous indecent images of children were subsequently identified on his electronic devices. It is understood that he used Snapchat when communicating with his victims. The investigation led to a number of Walsh’s victims being identified and they bravely disclosed their experiences in support of a criminal prosecution.

Following his conviction, Detective Chief Inspector Suzanne Keenaghan (Greater Manchester Police’s Designated Force Co-ordinator for Child Protection in the Public Protection Division), stated that “He was manipulative, predatory and exploitative and used typical grooming behaviour to befriend children who were going through difficult times and were vulnerable. He betrayed their trust and inflicted life-long trauma onto children for his own sexual gratification… “For one victim, cheerleading was supposed to be a safe space but Walsh used it as his hunting ground. He has never shown remorse or recognition for what he has done.”

DCI Keenan further noted, that “I hope this case also reminds parents and young people of the dangers. Abusers can be people you know and trust and they can take advantage of that trust. I would therefore urge parents and teachers to speak to children and young people about the signs of abuse and spread awareness of how to stay safe online.”

The comments of DCI Keenan are a sobering warning of the dangers of social media, the risks of online grooming and the importance of ensuring children and young adults are aware of the signs of grooming and that they feel able to speak to a trusted adult if they feel unsafe.

If you, or someone you know, has been experienced online sexual abuse or grooming, and you would like to obtain free, confidential, initial advice in relation to addressing these concerns or options in bringing a civil claim for damages, then Hodge Jones & Allen solicitors can help you.

Olivia Coffey, a senior associate in the Civil Liberties & Human Rights team, has many years of experiencing in acting for victims of recent and non-recent child sexual abuse. She can be contacted directly by emailing or by calling 0808 296 7694.