Belfast Telegraph

Jordanian paralympian freed from court after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting two girls and woman in Antrim

By Michael Donnelly

A Jordanian paralympian and world record holder was today freed when his 12 month jail term for sexual assault while training in Antrim in the run-up to the London 2012 Paralympic games, was suspended for two years.

Crown Court Judge Jeffrey Miller QC told 33-year-old wheelchair-bound weight lifter Omar Sami Qaradhi, he had brought distress to his victims, abused the hospitality of Antrim, and brought shame on himself and fellow team members.

Judge Miller also told Qaradhi: "For all this you must accept full responsibility and for the consequences to yourself, which this court accepts have been devastating".

Qaradhi had earlier pleaded guilty to sexually touching a therapist and two teenage girls, just as he was about to go on trial at the Antrim court.

He was one of three Jordanian athletes sent home just a week before the start of the London games. 

Although charges against two others, Faisal Hammash and Motaz Al-Junadi were eventually dropped, the Jordanian Paralympic Committee, at the time, said in a written statement that it decided to pull all three out because it "would be inappropriate for the accused athletes to compete".

Judge Miller said that but for his offending, Qaradhi could have brought "such pride to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and done so much for fellow paralympians and disabled people generally within the kingdom".

Earlier, defence lawyer John McCrudden QC said he had been expressly instructed to make a complete and unqualified apology to each of the three victims.

Qaradhi, he said, wished to apologise for the indignity, hurt and distress they had suffered as a result of his actions.

Mr McCrudden said the paralympics would have been a life changing for Qaradhi, who was expected to win gold.

The athlete, he added, had been "plunged into shame, plunged into isolation" and banned from the very sport he loved.

As part of his sentence Qaradhi was also put on the Sex Offenders' Register for the next 10 years.

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