Kit Carson
© Joe Giddens/PA
Kit Carson pictured arriving at Cambridge magistrates court in April 2018.
A youth football coach and scout credited with launching the careers of a string of star players has died in a car crash on the day his trial for sexual offences against 11 boys was due to start.

Kit Carson, 75, is believed to have been on his way to Peterborough crown court when his car left the road and smashed into a tree. His body was identified by his wife, Pauline.

Police are examining the circumstances of the crash, which took place on a straight stretch of road about six miles from Carson's home in Cambridge. His trial, which could have lasted up to eight weeks, has been formally discontinued.

Detectives had been investigating Carson, who worked with boys at Peterborough United, Norwich City and Cambridge United, since the Guardian broke the football child abuse scandal broke in late 2016.

Carson was arrested in January 2017 and accused of 12 counts of indecent assault and one of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity. The offences, which he denied, were alleged to have happened between 1978 - when Carson was 35 - and 2009. The alleged victims were all under 16 at the time.

According to the particulars of the offences, the first alleged indecent assault happened at a hotel in the north of England, while most of the others took place in and around Peterborough.

The incitement offence allegedly happened between February 2008 and February 2009 in Cambridge. This is said to have involved Carson showing the complainant images of scantily clad women while the boy exercised.

No further details of the allegations against Carson were given in court. However, during an investigation by the Guardian before his arrest, former players claimed:
  • They were touched intimately by Carson.
  • They were routinely made to strip and exercise so their muscular development could be examined in the UK and while on trips abroad.
  • They were instructed to wrestle in muddy puddles just in underwear with each other, told to swim naked or massage each other with oil.
One former player, who made allegations about Carson to the police, said: "Kit was a gateway to success. You did what you were told. If you questioned anything you were unprofessional. He used to say: 'do you trust me?'"

"Only on reflection you see it was wrong. I looked up to him as a role model. You felt if you complained, if you went to your parents you would be released for being unprofessional."

Another ex-player who said Carson ordered him to drop his shorts so he could check how he was developing, said his former coach's death did not give him closure.

He said: "This is another sad day in the fight for justice in historical child sexual abuse cases. It is so difficult to disclose abuse of a sexual nature to start with, and the worry of your account not being believed.

"I get no closure from this now knowing Kit Carson has not been held accountable for his actions, and the impact those actions had throughout the lives of many boys. The positive to be taken is that people stood up and were counted, and said: 'Yes, this happened to me and it was wrong.' I feel that admitting is step one, disclosing is step two then healing is step three. Once survivors get their head around this news, they can start to heal."

Carson's trial had been due to begin on Monday morning but the prosecution asked for proceedings to be adjourned for 24 hours.

On Tuesday, Jeremy Benson QC, prosecuting, informed the court Carson had died after a car crash at about 9.45am on Monday - 15 minutes before the case was listed to begin.

Police said the crash took place at Bottisham, near Cambridge, which is about 40 miles from the court building. One theory police were investigating to explain why he was so far from court was that he was confused over the start date of his trial.

A Cambridgeshire police spokesman said: "Police have identified a man who died following a single-vehicle crash on the A1303 at Bottisham.

"Michael Carson [his real name], 75, of Cambridge, was driving his red Mazda 3 at about 9.45am when it left the road and crashed into a tree. Emergency services attempted to save Mr Carson's life but he was declared dead at the scene.

"No other vehicle or person was involved in the collision. Mr Carson was due to stand trial at Peterborough crown court, beginning yesterday, on multiple sexual assault charges. The victims have been informed and efforts are being made to contact all the witnesses."

Carson was the academy director at Peterborough United football club from 1993 until 2001 and a number of players he coached there went on to have careers in the Premier League.

Before working at Peterborough, Carson was at Norwich City from 1983 and had connections with other junior teams. On his LinkedIn page, he described himself as a football consultant and scout for a Finnish club.

Carson was an Irish citizen but had lived in England for many years. He claimed to have formed the first football school in the country and once said he had gained particular satisfaction from developing boys of Irish ancestry.

Carson took hundreds of junior players on footballing tours abroad and said on his website: "I probably know more about European grassroots soccer than almost any other youth developer in England having travelled to European nations with soccer teams well over 500 times."