Ex-Newcastle manager did not take action on abuse claims right away

David Conn
John Carver was senior youth coach at Newcastle at the time he was told that a former youth player had made the allegations. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

A former Newcastle United manager did not take immediate action when he was told that sexual abuse allegations had been made against the club’s then coaching assistant George Ormond, a court has heard.

John Carver, Newcastle’s manager from January to May 2015, was in the late 1990s a senior coach in the club’s youth system when a physiotherapist, Paul Ferris, told him that the former Newcastle player Derek Bell had made the allegations against Ormond.

On Monday, Carver was asked by Sharon Beattie, prosecuting, whether he took action when told of Bell’s allegations.

“Yes,” Carver replied, “but not immediately, because I needed to digest it”.

Carver said Ormond was still part of the Newcastle’s youth team contingent which travelled to Coleraine, in Ireland, for a major tournament, after Ferris told him about the allegations against Ormond.

Asked why Ormond was still travelling with the young players, Carver said he had not put the allegations to him. “I couldn’t go to him with an allegation that somebody told me,” he said. “I had no evidence; it was just an allegation.”

Ormond in on trial at Newcastle crown court on 38 counts of sexual abuse.

Carver told the court he had known Ormond through youth football for more than 20 years, that they had become good friends socially and that Ormond had been assisting him at Newcastle from 1993, when Carver was director of excellence. Craver said he never confronted Ormond with the allegations, but instead found what he later agreed was “a ruse” to “get George Ormond out of the football club”.

That came when the Football Association began to require people working in youth development to have more formal coaching qualifications.

“I saw that as an opportunity,” Carver said. “I asked George if he was going to take his qualifications further and his response was ‘no’.”

George Ormond is on trial, charged with 38 counts of sexual abuse. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

He said Ormond then ceased to be involved at the club. Asked how soon this was after he was told of Bell’s allegations, Carver replied: “I couldn’t give you a specific date or time.”

Later he said he believed Ormond left in 1998, having been involved as a coach’s assistant and driver of the young players for the club for five years.

Giving evidence earlier, Ferris said he had told Carver and another senior youth development official at the time, John Murray, about the allegations in the spring of 1997. Ferris said he had also spoken to a senior police officer, but at that time Bell had not wanted to go to the police. The jury was told at the beginning of the trial that Ormond was convicted of sexual abuse offences in 2002.

Ferris said he had been “concerned” that Ormond was travelling to Coleraine with them in the summer of 1997, after Bell had made his allegations. Ferris said he told Ormond he was not to have anything to do with treating the young players for injuries. But he said he did find Ormond in a room with young players, one of whom had a plaster on his knee after sustaining a cut.

Ormond is charged with one count of buggery, 36 counts of indecent assault and one of indecency he is alleged to have committed against 19 victims over a 25-year period between 1973 and 1998. He is accused of committing the offences while helping with extra-curricular activities at a school, coaching at a north-east boys’ football club, and being involved with Newcastle’s youth system.

The trial continues.