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Ex-gym coach jailed over sex offences

A gymnastics coach has been jailed for six years over sexual offences against young girls in the Horsham area.

Martin O’Hara, 50, of Medmerry Hill, Brighton, now unemployed, was sentenced at Brighton Crown Court for sexually assaulting two teenage girls in West Sussex, while working as a freelance gymnastics coach between 1993 and 2001.

He had been convicted at the same court on October 23 after a ten-day trial, of eight indecent assaults, to which he had pleaded not guilty.

Six were offences of indecent assault on a girl then aged between 14 or 15 in Horsham between 1993 and 1995.

Two were of indecent assault on another girl then aged 12 or 13 at Southwater, Horsham, between 1995 and 1997.

Three of the six offences against the first girl were committed in a gym club, and the other five offences were committed elsewhere in the Horsham area.

The jury was unable to agree on a verdict for a separate charge of sexual activity with another girl then aged between 13 and 15 in the Horsham area between 2008 and 2011 and O’Hara was found not guilty of that charge.

The charges, authorised by the Crown Prosecution Service, followed an investigation by West Sussex child protection detectives.

Detective Constable Nathalie Bundy of the West Sussex Safeguarding Investigations Unit said; “The victims gave evidence in court and we admire both their readiness to do so and the way in which they so clearly described what had happened to them.

“Anyone who has information or concerns about sexual offending, whether against them or against others, can contact police at any time via 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101 and arranging to speak to specially trained detectives in confidence.”

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