Three different Muay Thai gym owners and instructors in the UK have been arrested for child sex abuse offences recently. This posts lists details of each of those arrests and the convictions made, as well as similar arrests of other martial arts instructors in England. I’ll save commentary for a separate article.
Peter Feeley, Spartan Muay Thai
Peter Feeley, owner of Spartan Muay Thai in Manchester, was handed a six-year prison sentence last month after being found guilty of child abduction, sexual activity with a child and indecent assault.
Feeley, 56, had been grooming and abusing a 14-year-old girl who had been training at his gym for over a year.
The abuse came to light after the girl was reported missing in May. When investigators traced the most recent contact from her phone to Feeley, they found him at the gym and arrested him on suspicion of kidnapping. There, they seized his laptop, which contained video evidence of his crimes.
During the trial, a letter written by the victim addressed to Feeley was read out in court. The following is an excerpt.
“I don’t want you to apologise, I want the guilt to eat you alive. I want you to drown in your thoughts like I drowned in mine. The memories constantly come back to haunt me. You caused all this yet I’m the one who’s left in agony.
‘I’ve decided to forgive you. Not for you, but for me. I will no longer pollute my heart with the fear, distrust, pain or anger. I will no longer be shackled to the past, I forgive you because hate is just another way of holding on and you don’t deserve to be held on to.”
It later emerged that Feeley had groomed other young female students, inviting them to attend ‘sleepovers’ at the gym, where he plied them with alcohol. One of these occasions, in 2012, he molested another girl in her sleeping bag.
Detective Constable Hannah Greetham spoke to BBC News about the investigation. “There is no excuse for the devastating abuse he has mercilessly inflicted on these young girls’ lives, who have been so brave in reporting his cruelty”, she said.
Feeley is now on the sex offenders register for life.
Keith ‘Pele’ Nathan, Pele’s Gym
Keith ‘Pele’ Nathan, owner of Pele’s gym in Manchester, was arrested in June and charged with 19 offences of indecent assault and gross indecency.
As the case is still ongoing, very few details have come to light so far. However, it has been reported that the incidents involved three girls, all of whom were aged under 16. These offences are alleged to have taken place at gyms in Manchester between 1979 and 2003.
Matthew Kendall, Telford Thai Boxing
Matthew Kendall, owner of Telford Thai Boxing, committed suicide last year after being arrested for an offence against a young female student.
It’s reported that Kendall, 39, was found in bed with a 15-year-old girl at a hotel, where he and some of his young fighters were staying for a Muay Thai show in Bolton in October 2016. A receptionist at the hotel alerted police after seeing Kendall take an underage girl to his room. When they arrived, he was arrested on suspicion of grooming and sexual activity with a minor.
Later, he was released on bail pending further inquiry. However, before meaningful progress could be made in the investigation, he shot himself in the head with a shotgun. Just three days after the arrest, his body was found in a Shropshire car park.
‘Who Was the Real Matt Kendall?‘, a blog post written by Carolyn Clayton, describes Kendall as ‘sick’ and ‘a narcissist’. Clayton claims that while her two sons trained at Telford Muay Thai, she was heavily involved in the gym. She wrote that during her time there, there was “lots of talk of his unhealthy relationship [sic] with his vulnerable girl students”.
Telford Muay Thai has since been shut down.
Predatory Instructors in Other Martial Arts
In recent years, several instructors teaching other martial arts in the UK have been arrested on similar offences.
Curtis Page, a kickboxing instructor in London, was recently jailed for historical charges of rape and sexual assault against three girls as young as 11 years old.
Page, now 60, was charged with 22 counts in total, including six rapes, 14 indecent assaults, and two counts of sex with a child under the age of 13. He was found guilty of two counts of indecent assault in April 2017 and subsequently jailed for four years.
One victim came forward at the age of 42 after seeing a picture of herself aged 11, when Page had first groped her. “I looked at my picture and I was just a little girl. This was abuse. This was wrong”, she told reporters. Page raped her for the first time when she was 12 years old, and continued what reporters have called “a sexual relationship” with her for years after that.
During the trial, jurors were told that Page repeatedly raped another girl after she had confided in him that she had previously been abused. Years later, he allegedly held a blade to her throat while raping her, threatening to throw her out of a window if she fought back.
During the trial, the prosecutor described how Page’s position of power allowed him to continue the abuse for years. “All of these girls lacked father figures in their lives and looked up to Mr Page as person of authority. He drove a wedge between them and their families”, he said.
Students referred to him as ‘Master Page’, and at the time of his arrest, he was president of the Great British Martial Arts Association and vice chairman of the British Kickboxing Council. Below, he’s pictured with his students at London Predators gym.
Paul Monty, a kickboxing teacher from Stockton, was convicted of 13 charges of sexual abuse against two of his female students in 2014.
The assaults took place in the 1980’s, when the girls were ages 13 and 15. Monty was in his 20’s at the time. He was originally jailed for four and a half years, but his sentence was increased to 10 years after an appeal.
Danny Ryland, 40, was arrested in 2014 and charged with 19 counts of sexual assault against four of his female students, who were aged between 11 and 16.
The offences were alleged to have taken place from 2009 to 2012 during one-on-one kickboxing sessions at his gym, Harborough Kickboxing Club, which has since closed its doors.
This year, he was found not guilty of 11 of those charges, and a jury was unable to agree on the remaining 8. As a result, Ryland was acquitted at Leicester Crown Court.
Northumberland Karate teacher Henry Cook abused five young girls who attended his classes. One of the assaults is reported to have taken place during a lesson on self defense against sex attackers. Upon his arrest, police discovered a disturbing catalogue of abuse on his computer, totalling 55,0000 images and 600 videos.
He was handed a ten-year prison sentence in June 2012.
In 2010, Nicholas Tuley was convicted of 13 charges of sexual abuse against four boys he taught at his jiu-jitsu classes. One of the victims was just ten years old.
Judge Heather Lloyd, who presided over the case, stated that Tuley used his “physical strength and emotional hold” as well as a “veneer of respectability” to carry out the abuse, which took place from 1993 to 2007.
The prosecutor added that Tuley’s position as a martial arts instructor gave him “an extensive opportunity to identify those likely to be most vulnerable and then ingratiate into their lives and sexually abuse them”.
Tuley, 43, was given a prison sentence of ten and a half years. However, it was later reduced to nine years on appeal. He was also ordered to sign the sex offenders register and given a lifetime ban from working with children.
See also: Sexual Assault in a Muay Thai Gym