September 2019

Wrestling referee told boy that sex act was type of ‘move’ used in the sport

A wrestling referee tried to groom a boy into performing a sex act by pretending it was a type of move used in the sport.

Peter John William Burns, 19, had been a ring announcer and referee at a wrestling club when he contacted a young club member via Facebook Messenger.

He soon moved the conversation towards offering to teach the boy how to pin an opponent in place, prosecutor Philip Clemo told Chester Crown Court on Monday.

Burns, of Halton Road, Runcorn told his victim this would involve the boy performing the move on Burns, and he enquired about the size of the boy’s bedroom in case someone walked in.

Wrestling fan Burns also contacted the youth’s parents in a bid to build trust, and told the boy not to use the supposed wrestling move in the ring or mention it to others as he was not a qualified coach.

He said the schoolboy – who was under the age of 16 and described as “vulnerable” in court – that he could wear whatever he wanted – trousers, shorts or even his underwear “for a laugh”.

The victim “was polite but drew the conversation to a close” when Burns told him he was bisexual with a leaning towards men.

While awaiting his court appearance, Burns breached his bail by attending a venue where the club hosts sessions, and has remained on remand since.

He admitted one count of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity at his first crown court plea hearing.

Mr Clemo told the court that Burns had been convicted of a similar incitement offence when he was 15 years old and had received a community order.

He said Burns, who also went by the fake name of Pete McLoughlin, had been on the sex offenders’ register when the offence took place earlier this year and during his involvement with the club.

The victim did not return to the wrestling club.

Judge Thomas Teague, QC, imposed a Sexual Harm Prevention Order but dropped a condition that would have prohibited Burns from attending private football matches and grounds.

This had been requested after investigators discovered pictures of teenage boys’ bums on Burns’s phone, apparently taken while he was at football matches.

Judge Teague said the risk would be covered by other conditions, and that any prohibition could end up too sweeping.

Judge Teague sentenced Burns to 12 months in prison, and imposed a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order, a four-year restraining order, and ordered Burns remain on the sex offenders register for 10 years.

His victim cannot be identified for legal reasons.

Sending Burns down, Judge Teague said the defendant’s request to the boy was a “bizarre and disturbing form of sexual gratification”.

He said: “It’s obvious to me I’m afraid you went to the club and certainly cultivated the acquaintance of (the victim) in order to commission the offences of the present kind.

“I’m not saying you don’t have an interest in wrestling but clearly part of the motivation was to gain access to young boys of this age.”