York & North Yorkshire

Liam O'Grady jailed for child sex crimes

Liam O'Grady Picture courtesy: The Press, York
Image caption O'Grady fought back tears as he was handcuffed and taken from court

An international karate champion has been jailed for five years for sex offences against a 13-year-old girl.

Liam O'Grady, 30, of Osbaldwick, York, was found guilty at York Crown Court of sexually grooming a child and three counts of sexual activity with a child.

Judge Stephen Ashurst said he had grossly breached the trust placed in him by the girl's parents.

He added that if the sexual activity had begun when the girl was 12, O'Grady would have been jailed for rape.

O'Grady fought back tears as he was handcuffed and taken from York Crown Court.

The Recorder of York heard during a trial last year that O'Grady, of Larchfield, sent sexual texts and pictures of himself to the teenager.

'In denial'

The court was told O'Grady sent her almost 5,000 texts in total, and abused her at his home, in his car and also in men's toilets.

The judge said O'Grady was clearly still in denial about what he had done.

He said he had received a large amount of testimonials which spoke with "one voice" about how the defendant had contributed to his community.

But Judge Ashurst said: "Maybe your sporting prowess had given you a degree of confidence.

"It was as though you believed you could get away with it because of your position."

O'Grady, who has won gold medals at world and European level, taught hundreds of children karate in York.

The judge said O'Grady put the girl through the ordeal of a trial and accused her of being a fantasist and said he had fallen into a trap.

The judge told him: "If you were trapped, it was a trap entirely of your own making."

He said the girl's parents "trusted you absolutely and their feelings of betrayal are only too clear".

The judge said O'Grady would be placed on the Sex Offenders Register and banned from working with children.

He also gave him an indefinite Sex Offenders Prevention Order which restricts his access to female children.

Speaking outside the court, Det Insp Shaun Page, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "I am pleased with the result and I think the sentence gives some comfort to the family of the victim."

The officer said: "Liam O'Grady has protested his innocence throughout. He remained arrogant and determined to try and prove his innocence."

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