FORMER students of a disgraced athletics coach who preyed on schoolgirls have slammed his seven-year prison sentence.

Those who Philip Banning, 68, taught at schools across Andover during the 1970s and 1980s said it was “common knowledge” that he was a "sleaze".

The former Andover Athletics coach was a familiar face to many who grew up in the town during the 1970s and 1980s.

Banning went to school in Andover and went on to teach at Winton School.

He was a respected athlete and a one-time Olympic hopeful, known as a talented long-distance runner.

One man recalled: “We used to look up to him, because he was an ex pupil who made good.|”

But Banning was also known for a more sinister reason. One former pupil said it was common knowledge to “never go into Mr Banning’s sports equipment cupboard.”

Another said: “The only surprise to any former Winton pupils is that it’s taken so long to happen. Everyone knew he was a sleaze.”

After running at an international level for Team GB, he returned returning to Andover Athletics Club as a qualified coach where he began to single girls out.

An ex-pupil told the Advertiser: “I remember Mr Banning he used to be PE Teacher at John Hanson School. I was unlucky I had him in my first year at John Hanson then moved to Winton for 2nd to 5th Year. He gave me the creeps.

"He used to chase you with slipper with nails in to make you run faster. He also liked watching you go into shower, while holding a meter stick. He made us all feel uncomfortable, I left school 30 years ago but I haven’t forgotten him.”

Banning moved around a lot during his career as a teacher working at Anton

Others were surprised at the news. A former Winton pupil commented: “I was at the school where he was teaching from 1977 to 1982 and never once did I hear anything untoward about him. Even as a kid you don’t know what’s going on. It goes to show you never know what’s happening behind closed doors.”

One woman said: “I just always had an uneasy feeling about him. I would see him a lot at athletics meetings and events. I wasn’t surprised when I saw the news. Maybe that’s why he moved to Wales. I wonder how many more lives he has ruined.

“His sentence in a joke, his victims are the ones who have been given a life sentence.”