A former police officer and football coach from Tadworth has been found guilty of 40 crimes related to the sexual abuse of 15 boys and girls over a 50-year period.

Stephen Henry Walker, 68, formerly of Chipstead Lane, Lower Kingswood, Tadworth, was found guilty of 40 charges of sexual assaults relating to 15 victims, both boys and girls, following the conclusion of the second of two trials at Croydon Crown Court yesterday (March 30).

An investigation into Walker’s offending was launched after one of the victims came forward in March 2018.

Police said the scale of Walker’s crimes and his "strong sexual interest in children, particularly boys" (although two of the victims were girls" became apparent as their investigation continued.

As a spokesperson for Surrey Police described:

"The offences included sexual assaults, gross indecency with children, inciting a child to commit an act of gross indecency, as well as offences of attempted buggery and buggery of some of the children.

"The offences took place between the late 1960s and 2007.

"Walker, who worked as a salesman and was also a police officer with the Metropolitan Police for a brief period, was also a coach for a number of children’s football teams, where he met some of the victims, while others were children he knew through family friends."

The majority of the crimes took place in Surrey according to the police statement released after Walker's guilty verdict was announced.

Walker fled to Malta after the abuse allegations against him started to come to light, and he lived there under an alias.

He returned to the UK in October 2019 and was subsequently arrested on suspicion of child sex offences.

Detective Inspector Paddy Mayers from the Complex Abuse Unit, described Walker was as a "vile sexual predator" who "used his position as a football coach, trusted member of the community and friend, to gain access to children and then seriously abuse them for his own gratification".

"The scale of his offending, which went unchallenged for years, cannot be underestimated," Mayers added.

"I would like to pay tribute to all the victims and witnesses involved in this case who were brave enough to come forward and give evidence, which meant re-living the ordeal they had endured as a result of the abuse Walker inflicted upon them.

"I would also like to thank them for their continued patience and support that resulted in the trial being delayed due to covid. I hope that the fact that he has been found guilty will give them some sense of justice after all these years of having to live with what he did to them," he said.