Northern Ireland news

Jail for youth football coach who groomed girl (13) and infected her with STD

Former youth soccer coach John Workman following an earlier court appearance

A youth football coach who admitted grooming a 13-year-old girl he later had sex with, infecting her with an STD, has been jailed for two years.

Ordering 34-year-old John Workman to spend a further two years on licence, Antrim Crown Court Judge Brian Sherrard also barred him from ever working with children again.

With a jury sworn in and ready to hear the trial last January Workman, from Craighyhill in Larne, was rearraigned and pleaded “guilty” to one charge of meeting a child following sexual grooming and three of sexual activity involving penetration with a child aged 13-16, all committed on various dates between March 1 and October 16, 2014.

Prosecuting QC Terence Mooney told the court today how the victim was 13 and 14-years-old when Workman groomed and then sexually abused her.

He disclosed that the victim “saw him as a father figure,” a view which Workman “took advantage of” in order to develop a relationship which was exclusively for his own “sexual gratification”.

Outlining how the victim was subjected to various sexual acts, Mr Mooney revealed that unprotected sex had resulted in the teenager being infected with an STD.

“The relationship ended, we say, only when the defendant told the injured party that their activities had come to the notice of outside parties including certain paramilitaries,” said the lawyer adding that following those revelations, Workman told the girl to “delete any evidence of communication such as text messages and social media messages".

Police became involved when, worried about what might happen to Workman as a result of paramilitary attention, the victim confided in a teacher who in turn told the authorities.

Arrested and interviewed, Workman “admitted that the motivation was sexual gratification” but claimed there had been an element of consent.

Mr Mooney highlighter however that “as a mature adult he could not have but realised that the relationship was wholly inappropriate, illegal and that he was committing a breach of trust”.

Jailing Workman and ordering him to sign the police sex offenders' register for the rest of his life, Judge Sherrard also imposed a Sexual Offences Prevention Order which prohibits him from having access to children or taking a job without prior approval from his designated risk manager.

Outside the court, friends and relatives of the victim said they were “just relieved that it’s all over.”

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