Pervert who sexually abused girl, 7, is spared jail by judge because he would be ‘taken advantage of’ in prison
A 22-year-old former sports coach who sexually abused a seven-year-old girl has been spared jail after a judge said he would be “taken advantage of” in prison.
Antonio Lawrie, who worked for sports firm My Coaching, faced more than three years in prison after he was found guilty of assaulting the child at least 16 times.
But a judge ruled it wouldn’t be right to send him to prison because his “complex” learning difficulties meant he would be “taken advantage of both physically and mentally”.
The 22-year-old abused the girl during a six month period, none of which took place at My Coaching
Lawrie denied all seven counts of assault by sexual touching but was found guilty, the Daily Echo reported.
During his sentencing Jon Swain, mitigating, told the court Lawrie struggled to make friends with people his own age, and had difficulties realising his actions were wrong.
He said: “Certain sections of society will say he must be punished and locked up with the key thrown away.
“But they are not aware or have the knowledge of what his needs are. They know nothing about his life but make up opinions of what he has done.”
Judge Gary Burrell QC agreed and decided against handing him an immediate prison sentence.
Lawrie, from Southampton, was given a two year sentence, suspended for two years.
He was given a restraining order preventing him from contacting children for 10 years and a 60-day rehabilitation order.
Praise for MyCoaching which helped investigations into paedophile employee
POLICE have praised a business owner after he supported an investigation into a paedophile employed by him.
Sports coach Antonio Lawrie, who worked as an apprentice at MyCoaching, was last week found guilty at Southampton Crown Court of assaulting a child as young as seven-years-old, at least 16 times during a six month reign of abuse.
Although none of the abuse took place at MyCoaching, managing director James Welsh told the Daily Echo details about the 21-year-old’s employment and safeguarding that takes place at the Hedge End based sport company.
Following the hearing, Detective Constable Mariette Ladd, from the Child Abuse Investigation Team, said: “This investigation has been a good example of Hampshire Constabulary working in partnership with other agencies to ensure the safeguarding of children.
“We are grateful to Mr Welsh and the team at MyCoaching for the support and assistance that they provided throughout this investigation.”
Mr Welsh confirmed that Lawrie was employed for the firm – which delivers further education programmes for young adults aged between 15 and 19-years-old – between between September 1, 2015 and June 5, 2017.
He added: “In his role he was never left alone with classes and was always supervised by a senior mentor.”
Schools he has taught at while working for My Coaching include Ludlow Infant School, Townhill Infant School and Harefield Primary School – all part of the Hamwic Education Trust.
The trust did not comment, but said it was the responsibility of each school to choose its sports club operators.
Head teacher of both Ludlow and Townhill schools, Beverly Corbin, released a statement to parents in which she assured them that Lawrie was never unsupervised with children.
She added that Southampton City Council’s designated officer had “no concerns” that any pupils were at risk.
Harefield head teacher, Georgia Radford, released a similar statement to parents.and added that the school would no longer use My Coaching.
Lawrie, of Bluebell Road, Southampton, will be sentenced next month.