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Published: 13:36, 16 May 2019
| Updated: 13:45, 16 May 2019
A convicted paedophile tried coaxing away a family’s children by offering visits to high profile football games.
Arsenal fanatic Alec Rivers blasted the mother for “wrapping her children in cotton wool” when she refused to allow the predator to take one child to the Emirates Stadium.
Rivers, 49, was jailed for sexually assaulting a minor in 2010 and slapped with a sexual offences prevention order, to help deter re-offending.
The order banned the social media specialist from being alone, or seeking to be alone, with people under-18s.
But Rivers would later flout the ruling - by trying to befriend a family then attempting to lure the children – and be re-arrested in 2018.
Rivers was found guilty of six breaches of the Sexual Harm Prevention Order at Canterbury Crown Court on Wednesday, and cleared of two other alleged offences.
Details of his improper behaviour surfaced last year during a routine police inspection, where Rivers admitted playing football with a child.
"He said I shouldn't wrap my children up in cotton wool and should let them go away from us..."
The confession prompted officers to trace the child’s family, who described Rivers’ intensifying behaviour.
Giving court evidence, the mother told how Rivers occasionally struck up banal conversation with her outside the family home in 2015.
Gradually, Rivers approached more frequently, kneeling down and turning to the children, inviting exchanges about football.
By 2017, his loitering became so claustrophobic the mother “dreaded going home”, instead staggering the time she’d arrive from school with her little ones.
"When I returned home collecting the children from school he would come and talk to us on the drive way,” she told the jury.
"It was getting to me. It was getting to the point where I was dreading to go home..."
"Mr Rivers was interested in football and the conversation would go on from there. He started using the children's football but would later arrive with his own one," she said.
"How often would he ask to play football with your children?" asked prosecutor Mark Hunsley.
"Almost daily," she replied.
She continued: "He asked my son to come to a football match which I said no to - Mr Rivers became quite aggressive.
"He said I shouldn't wrap my children up in cotton wool and should let them go away from us.
"It was getting to me. It was getting to the point where I was dreading to go home.
“He was hanging outside our house and would beckon my children over, it was relentless."
She described how Rivers, of Firs Lane in Folkestone, would bend down to address her children.
They would become upset when she refused their requests to play football or attend matches with Rivers, a ‘red ticket’ holder.
“It was like I was made out to be the bad guy,” she said.
Under cross-examination, when defence barrister John Fitzpatrick claimed Rivers’ advances were innocuous, she broke down and cried: “These are my babies’ lives.”
Mr Fitzpatrick asserted the parents were in earshot of conversations with the children and denied Rivers repeatedly breached the order.
"Mr Rivers was an irritating eccentric, yes, but there's no evidence he tried to be alone with your children.
"Whenever Mr Rivers invited them it was always an invitation you heard about and it was never unsupervised."
However the jury ruled Rivers guilty of six charges on Wednesday for offences committed on or before April 5, 2017.
They included persistently inviting a child to play football, inviting them to a London football match, inviting a child to look at his shed, and inviting a child inside his flat.
He was acquitted for allegedly inviting a child to the park and offering to babysit the children.
"Mr Rivers was an irritating eccentric, yes, but there's no evidence he tried to be alone with your children..." Defence barrister John Fitzpatrick
Rivers, who could be seen shaking his head during the four day trial, broke down in tears when the jury delivered its verdict.
Judge Mark Weekes refused Mr Fitzpatrick’s application for bail until sentencing on Monday, and remanded his client in custody.
He told Rivers a prison sentence is “inevitable.”
He said: “You have been convicted of what are very serious offences.
“Although I’m not going to sentence you today the inevitable sentence is custody.
“You may go down.”