Renowned wrestling coach jailed for sexually abusing teenage lad

James Dougan Watson
James Dougan Watson

A wrestling coach who sexually abused young boys in the ’80s and ’90s is today starting a jail term after another victim came forward.

James Dougan Watson, a former British trainer who ran his own club in Lowton, molested the 15-year-old while carrying out “sports massages”, Bolton Crown Court was told.

And while introducing the youngster to “relaxation techniques” in his bedroom, Watson would kiss him with an open mouth and grope his bottom, the court heard.

This is the fourth time Watson, now 65 and formerly of Beardsworth Drive, Lowton, has been convicted of sexual offences involving his wrestling students.

His first jail sentence in 1998 saw him imprisoned for six years for raping an under-age boy, and molesting another, in the Lowton area.

Speaking about his ordeal in court the victim, now 37, said: “Mr Watson has acted despicably but I recognise I was just part of his conveyor belt of abuse.”

He said his family thought their introduction to Watson, a renowned strength and conditioning coach in the Wigan and Leigh area, was a “golden ticket” for the teenager, as they could never have afforded lessons with him. But their trust had been comprehensively betrayed.

The victim said he could not even bring himself to allow his own children to participate in organised sports, because of his own experiences.

Watson was due to stand trial but eventually pleaded guilty to six specimen charges of indecent assault, relating to when the boy was aged 15 or 16.

Joanne Rodikis, prosecuting, said the defendant would have been aged around 42 when he was introduced to his victim, then 15.

When the teenager’s muscles began to feel tight and stiff, after an exercise session, Watson would massage his legs and body, and would always brush against his private parts with his arm.

Miss Rodikis said other occasions would see the boy asked to perform bench presses. Watson stood behind him to “spot” the exercise but end up thrusting his groin into the teen’s face.

The court heard how he also insisted on showing the boy “relaxation technqiues”, while lying on a bed with him. This would always end with Watson pulling the youngster close and kissing him, while fondling his bottom.

Miss Rodikis said the victim felt “the most scared” when he was asked to accompany Watson to watch another student compete in America.

While in a hotel room together Watson pulled him close and started rubbing his bottom, the court heard.

Watson was also given a suspended prison sentence in 2010 for carrying out indecent assaults on a boy aged between nine and 14, in the early 1990s.

He is currently serving a four-year jail term for the sexual abuse of another victim in Surrey, while running wrestling training sessions there between 1980 and 1985. His grooming began with sports massages, after training runs, and ended with him sharing a bed with the youngster.

Robert Golinski, defending, said Watson, who had previously suffered from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, had now been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and was undergoing treatment.

The defendant, who had spared the victim having to give evidence about his experiences at trial, had committed no offences since his release from his first prison sentence in 2003, he added.

Mr Golinski said: “The defendant has lost everything. He was highly regarded for the very real skills that he possessed, in terms of the sports that he loved. That is gone from his life completely.”

The court heard he had found work as a salesman, after his first prison sentence, and married, before he was arrested again a few years later.

Jailing him, Judge Timothy Stead said Watson had “cynically sexually exploited” young boys who had sought his assistance in achieving their own sporting aims.