Ex-cricket captain sentenced for caning young men

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The Independent Online

The former Somerset cricket captain Peter Roebuck received a suspended jail term yesterday for caning three young men in an "abusing and humiliating" act intended to "satisfy some need".

The 45-year-old, who has led players such as Ian Botham, Viv Richards and Joel Garner, had denied three counts of causing actual bodily harm – which the prosecution accepted – but admitted three charges of common assault between 1 April and 31 May 1999.

The court was told Roebuck, a sports journalist, had met the South African 19-year-olds while working abroad, and had invited them to live in his Taunton home on the promise that he would coach them.

He had warned them he would use corporal punishment if they failed to obey his "house rules", said Ian Fenny, for the prosecution.

On separate occasions he caned the three "terrified" teenagers when they failed to achieve the standards he set at coaching sessions. He then comforted them and asked to see the marks on their buttocks.

Sentencing Roebuck, Judge Graham Hume Jones said: "It was totally inappropriate to administer corporal punishment to boys of this age in circumstances such as these. I am not assisted by an expert in the field, but it does seem so unusual that it must have been done to satisfy some need in you, whatever that may have been." He said: "You used your position to abuse these boys and to humiliate them."

After the hearing, Roebuck said his life had been "hell" since the offences came to light. He said he had not detected any unhappiness among the boys at the time. "Obviously I misjudged the mood and that was my mistake and my responsibility and I accept that."

Paul Mendelle, for the defence, said Roebuck was a "complex man" who set high standards for himself and expected them of others. He had used corporal punishment only to encourage the teenagers.