A PAEDOPHILE referee officiated kids’ football games despite being banned from having contact with children.

Roman Fletcher, who has a history of grooming youngsters as a sports coach, acted as a linesman during matches at Orford Jubilee Neighbourhood Hub.

Liverpool Crown Court heard on Monday, January 10, that the 21-year-old was previously locked up for using his role as a wrestling ref to target victims and was also handed a 10-year sexual harm prevention order.

But following his release from prison the 21-year-old, formerly known as Peter Burns, then started using his training as an official to get closer to children – only to be spotted by an eagle-eyed coach.

The Brookvale United u14s girls’ team manager recognised the pervert, of Halton Road in Runcorn, as she had worked with him through football when he was a teenager.

She saw him giving offside decisions during a match, talking to a six-year-old spectator and playing in a game with a group of youths aged around 10 to 12 in September last year.

He returned to the leisure centre the following month and was again seen by the coach at the side of a pitch.

Fletcher was told to leave and did so, but returned at the end and went in goal while having a kickabout with children aged between eight and 13.

She took a picture of the offender and contact the Football Association.

But he returned for a third time in November 2021 and she called the police, causing him to flee.

Fletcher – who was convicted of five counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity in 2017 and 2019 – admitted three breaches of a SHPO during an earlier hearing and was jailed for 16 months.

Sentencing, Recorder Ian Harris stated that the defendant had showed a continuing ‘sexual attraction and infatuation with children’.

He added: "It's a persistent breach that may, and in my judgement would, have led to harm.

"You were cunning and deceptive in your actions when you breached the order on those three occasions, and you knew full well what you were doing.

"I have no doubt a future form of paedophile offending would have occurred."