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UPDATED: York karate ace jailed for 5 years for child abuse

| January 20, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Child abuseAN INTERNATIONAL karate champion from York has been jailed for five years for child abuse against a 13-year-old girl.

Liam O’Grady, was sentenced today at York Crown Court, after being convicted by a jury last month. O’Grady, 30, of Osbaldwick, has taught hundreds of children karate at after-school clubs and won gold at World and European level.

A jury had heard earlier that he sent sexual texts and pictures of himself to the girl and sexually abused her in his house, his car and men’s toilets.O’Grady was found guilty of four charges of sexual activity with a child and one of meeting a child after sexually grooming her. He was acquitted of one of the sexual activity charges and convicted of all other charges.

A spokeswoman for the executive of the Karate Union of Great Britain said that as a result of O’Grady’s conviction and sentencing, he had been expelled from the organisation by its executive committee.

O’Grady wept in the dock as the Recorder of York Judge Stephen Ashurst spelt out the consequences of his prolonged grooming and exploitation of the girl, starting when she was 12. His sentence includes a lifetime ban on working with children again.

“You have brought this upon yourself,” he told O’Grady.

His barrister Jason Macadam said: “He has lost his livelihood, he has lost his position in the sporting world. It is right to say he is a public disgrace following these convictions.”

Outside court, Joe Cocker, manager of City of York Safeguarding Children Board, praised the “incredible courage” of the girl and her friends who all gave evidence at O’Grady’s trial. The girl’s friends went to the authorities because they were alarmed at what she had told them. “What he did was not only abusive in terms of the acts he was found guilty of, but also abusive in his cynical manipulation of this 12-year-old young girl,” said Mr Cocker.

“Her courage stands in stark contrast to his reprehensible pursuit of self-interest and cowardice.”

Det Insp Shaun Page of North Yorkshire Police said: “O’Grady’s arrogance and repeated denials of the offences he committed meant that rather than pleading guilty when he had the chance, he has subjected his victim and her family to the further turmoil of a lengthy court process.

“I hope this sentence makes O’Grady face up to the fact that what he has done is sick and completely unacceptable. I also hope that the end of this case can bring some comfort to the victim and her family and helps them move on with their lives.”

O’Grady, who moved from Osbaldwick to Flintshire in Wales after he was charged, denied one charge of grooming a child for sex and three of sexual activity with a child, but was convicted by a York jury last month..

Mr Macadam said he continues to protest his innocence. In addition to the jail term, O’Grady was put on the sex offenders’ register, made subject to a sexual offences prevention order and banned from working with children, all for life.

The judge said he was a high achieving sportsman. “But success in sport and the adulation it brings doesn’t of course provide immunity from the consequences of criminal behaviour, very serious criminal behaviour as I judge this to be. “It may be your sporting prowess had given you a degree of confidence. It was possible you believed you could get away with it because of your position.”

O’Grady had betrayed the trust the girl’s parents had placed in him to look after their child while training her and “played” his wife and the girl off against each other.

Mr Cocker praised the police for their “determination and tenacity”, the child’s school for supporting the girl and her friends and acting on their information, York social care and the team work between the agencies. O’Grady’s wife Lisa gave evidence for the defence but was not in court to see her husband sentenced. Mr Macadam said the future of his family was “extremely uncertain”. The defence team handed in testimonials from family, friends and work colleagues.

Source: York Press

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