A PAEDOPHILE former rugby coach has avoided jail after he pleaded guilty to grooming two underage girls.

James Dowle, who coached girls at Ynysddu Panthers at under 15 and under 18 level, previously admitted six counts of sexual communication with two girls aged 13 and 14.

The 25-year-old’s actions were only discovered when the mother of one of the girls confiscated her phone in December 2018 and discovered the exchanges on Facebook messenger.


Claire Pickthall, prosecuting, said the messages began asking for the girl’s details for registration – which the club already had – although the conversation “quickly became flirtatious in nature.”

Dowle, of Lon y Llwyn in Nelson, asked the girl about the pictures she had on her Instagram account, before saying he had pictures of himself on his account saying it was “because he was sexy,” Ms Pickthall told Cardiff Crown Court.

He asked the girl to “send nudes” and in an exchange over Christmas 2018 said “we should get it on,” to which the girl replied “we shouldn’t.”

Dowle was arrested on January 8, 2019, after one of the girls’ mothers reported him the day before.

It was only after this that Dowle’s exchanges with the second girl, who had just turned 14, were discovered, after a meeting held by the rugby club to inform parents about the situation.

This exchange began on August 13, 2018, and the messages “began innocently and then quickly turned to sexual matters,” said Ms Pickthall.

The defendant asked the girl if she wanted to have sex with him, and told her the length of his penis.

They also exchanged messages about watching pornography, and the defendant “asked [the girl] to make a video for him,” said Ms Pickthall.

After his arrest, Dowle claimed not to have gained any sexual gratification from the messages, and said they were just friendly messages that you would send to a friend, added the prosecution.

Mitigating, Andrew Davies, said Dowle had expressed “genuine remorse” for his actions.

“He was clearly a young man with potential made clear by his position of responsibility with Badminton Wales,” said Mr Davies, adding that Dowle resigned from his position at Badminton Wales “immediately.”

“The last 18 months he has made to rehabilitate his life,” said Mr Davies. “He gained employment and worked up to a management position.

“There was a talented young man who through his own foolishness had shattered his life and his future.”

Mr Davies added that there was no physical sexual contact between the defendant and the two girls, and no images had been exchanged.

Concluding, Judge Rhys Rowlands said: “You were trusted to be around them as the coach of their rugby team. Your behaviour shows a breach of trust on your part.

“Had this progressed as you were seemingly interested, then great harm would’ve been caused.

“Fortunately one of the mothers looked at their daughter’s phone.

“You are letting the whole rugby community down.

“Young girls have enough to deal with without the likes of you using social media for your own sexual gratification.”

Judge Rowlands criticised the police and Crown Prosecution Service for taking 15 months to bring this case to court.

Dowle was handed a 38-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, and a £500 fine.

He must complete 35 sessions of the Horizon Programme, and complete Rehabilitation activity for 30 day over the next two years.

Dowle must pay a surcharge of £140.

He must also register as a sex offender for five years, and was made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order for the same period.

Dowle was dismissed as a Ynysddu RFC coach last year.

Commenting on the case, an NSPCC Cymru spokeswoman said: “Dowle held a position of trust and should have been protecting the children in his care, instead of targeting girls online and taking an unhealthy interest in them.

 “This case highlights the urgent need for the UK Government to push forward with a mandatory ‘duty of care’ which requires companies to take reasonable steps to tackle harmful activity such as grooming on their sites, which we have been demanding through our Wild West Web campaign.”