A FORMER cricket ‘hero’ has been jailed for abusing teenage boys for a third time.

Michael Strange, a former coach and scout for Durham County Cricket Club, is behind bars having been found guilty by a jury of nine counts of sexual assault over a three-year period.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how Strange, now overweight and in poor health, was held in high regard by young players for his cricketing prowess.

But he abused their trust and, in this case, would invite his victim to his home to watch pornographic films, or to remote locations, where he would abuse him.

In a personal statement his victim said: “During my adult life I have slowly recoiled into an anxious and nervous man.

“I have been trying to deal with what happened to me.”

The court heard the man suffers from panic attacks and does not like enclosed spaces such as cars, tunnels or queues.

The victim said: “I have struggled with being abused by a man who was supposed to protect me.

“This will affect me for the rest of my life.”

The man said the trial meant he had to relive the abuse and the proceedings had put a lot of strain on him and his family.

He said he now hopes he can recover from his past knowing that Strange has been convicted for his crimes.

Strange, now 60, of Upton Street, Bensham, Gateshead, had denied the charges against him but was found guilty by a jury on Tuesday.

The court heard he was jailed in 2012 for six years for the abuse of three boys going back to the 1990s.

In 2016 he received a three year sentence for the abuse of another boy in 2004.

Mitigating, Anthony Dunne said: “This is a man who has to be sentenced for the third time for similar conduct in similar circumstances.

“It arose over a period of time that ended 15 years ago.

“There is no suggestion of any offending since then. The defendant is a very different man both physically and mentally."

Judge Julie Clemitson jailed Strange for four-and-a-half years.

She said: “You were something of a cricketing hero. Your victim trusted you. He was young and was confused as to what was happening.”

The judge told Strange: "It is apparent that you have no remorse for what you have done. It is clear that you are a predatory paedophile and you pose a danger to teenage boys.”

Following the sentencing, the NSPCC released a statement.

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Children should be able to play sport without fear of being targeted by adults abusing their position of power, but Strange took advantage of a young boy’s cricketing dreams for his own sexual gratification.

“Sexual abuse is never the fault of the victim and this case shows it’s never too late for survivors of abuse to come forward in the knowledge they’ll be listened to and supported.”

Childline is available 24/7 on 0800-11-11 to offer confidential advice. Meanwhile, adults concerned about a child’s welfare can call the helpline on 0808-800-5000.