March 4 - Jordanian powerlifter Omar Sami Qaradhi has been handed a 12-month jail sentence suspended for two years after he pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault at Antrim Crown Court today.
Qaradhi, a silver medallist in the 48 kilogram class at Beijing 2008, was also put on the Sex Offenders' Register for 10 years and must notify police if he intends to return to the United Kingdom.
The 33-year-old wheelchair-bound athlete had originally pleaded not guilty, but changed his plea today after he was charged with carrying out three separate sexual assaults on a physiotherapist and two teenage girls in August 2012.
The incidents occurred at the Antrim Forum complex prior to the London 2012 Paralympic Games, which was being used as a training base by the Jordanians.
The disgraced Qaradhi admitted to inappropriately touching two girls aged 14 and persuading them to have their pictures taken with him, while he also assaulted a female physiotherapist who was administering treatment.
Qaradhi's team-mate Mutaz Aljuneidi and trainer Faisal Mustafa Hammash were also arrested by police following the assaults, but the charges were later dropped after a court ruled they had no case to answer.
All three were banned from competing at London 2012 by the Jordanian Paralympic Committee (JPC) pending the investigation.
Crown Court Judge Jeffrey Miller QC told Qaradhi today that he had brought distress on his victims and abused the hospitality shown to him,while also denying himself a chance of competing for gold at London 2012.
"For all this you must accept full responsibility and for the consequences to yourself, which this court accepts have been devastating," added Judge Miller.
King Abdullah II of Jordan had provided £5,500 ($8,700/€6,500) to secure Qaradhi's bail during preliminary hearings last year, while the JPC and Jordan Olympic Committee (JOC) had released a statement at the time saying they "deeply regretted hearing of the charges" and had "full confidence in the British justice system".
Defence lawyer for Qaradhi, John McCrudden QC, said his client offered a "complete and unqualified" apology to the victims for the indignity, distress and hurt he had caused them.
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