Crystal Palace swimming coach Mike Drew sexually abused boys

Michael Drew was an elite swimming coach who worked with boys across south London, east London and Essex for four decades. 

He went on to become president of the British Swimming Coaches Association but was unmasked in 2000 when five boys came forward about abuse he’d subjected them to between 1969 and 1991. 

Drew was jailed for six years in 2001, a sentence which sparked concern about the wider issue of child sexual abuse in the sport. 

In 2022 a sixth historic victim approached police about abuse he had suffered at Drew’s hands in the 1970s. 

On Friday (June 28, 2024) the sex offender, now aged 78, was sentenced to a further two years and three months in prison. 

‘Evil’ 

Drew, of Wilmington, Dartford , was a highly respected coach who taught talented young swimmers in areas including Bromley , Crystal Palace , Hornchurch and Laindon. 

The latest victim to come forward was abused by Drew between the age of 13 and 15. 

Prosecutor Madeleine Wolfe told Croydon Crown Court that the young boy had relied on his coach to improve his performance as he was competing in tournaments. 

“So when Mr Drew said a medical procedure was necessary in training he did not consider refusing or questioning it,” Ms Wolfe said. 

Drew made the boy perform sex acts while telling him it would increase his level of Vitamin E and swimming performance. 

When he came forward in 2022 the victim told police that he had trusted Drew implicitly he and assumed the abuse was for his benefit. 

Michael Drew pictured in 2001 - Met Police do not hold a photo of him from his most recent arrestMichael Drew pictured in 2001 – Met Police do not hold a photo of him from his most recent arrest (Image: PA/PA Archive/PA Images)

In a victim impact statement he described Drew as “evil” and told the court how the abuse had impacted his entire adult life. 

He said: “The biggest regret of this sad criminal offence was that I could not speak about what happened to me. 

“Throughout the 1970s I struggled with the ability to make friends due to the barriers. 

“In my education I found it difficult to concentrate at school due to what was happening to me. 

“I have a sense of guilt for not speaking out sooner. The rational side of me wanted to get it out but the emotional side of me wanted to keep it in.” 

‘Madness’ 

After the latest victim came forward Drew was arrested again and later pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent assault. 

His barrister, James Manning, told the court: “Mr Drew tells me he feels ashamed and referred to his behaviour as madness.” 

But Mr Manning urged Judge Daniel Flahive to give his client a suspended sentence rather than sending him to prison. 

Mr Manning said: “He was convicted in 2001 and was given a significant sentence. He spent a long time in custody and the system has worked in that he has not reoffended. He has come out and lived a different life.” 

“He no longer poses a threat to children, or for that matter, anybody.” 

But Judge Flahive decided a prison sentence was necessary to punish Drew.

Drew was sentenced at Croydon Crown Court on Friday, June 28, after admitting six offencesDrew was sentenced at Croydon Crown Court on Friday, June 28, after admitting six offences (Image: NQ)  Judge Flahive said: “It took [the victim] a great deal of courage to come forward in 2022. 

“He was in his teens in the 1970s and he looked up to you as a swimming coach. 

“You were renowned in your field. The boys thought the world of you and looked to you to help their future careers as swimmers. 

“You took advantage of that.” 

He concluded: “He was a child and he was vulnerable. All of this drives me to the opinion that there has to be a prison sentence here.” 

Drew was sentenced to two years and three months in custody. 

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