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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Cumbria ex-olympian guilty of sex abuse

A Cumbrian canoe coach who represented GB in three Olympics has been found guilty of sexually abusing one of his promising young pupils.

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Paralysed: Peter Lawler

Peter Lawler, 71, of High Lorton, Cockermouth, now faces a jail sentence for indecently assaulting the girl over a two-year period when she was just 13.

His conviction represents a shocking fall from grace for the one-time sporting star, who reached the semi-finals in 1,000-metre kayak event at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, again in Mexico City in 1968 and just missed out in the same event at 1972 Munich Games.

It comes four years after a horse-riding accident left Lawler paralysed and contemplating suicide.

The defendant was convicted of one charge of indecent assault following a four-day trial. Judge Neil Stewart said it was a sample count which reflected a number of incidents.

Guildford Crown Court was told that Lawler abused the girl repeatedly while they were on training runs.

Judge Stewart remanded the wheelchair-bound defendant on bail until July 6 for a medical report before sentencing him.

He added: “I would also like a report from the Governor of HMP Highdown as to what the facilities are like in prison for people suffering from Mr Lawler’s condition.”

The ex-Olympic star was also made to sign the sex offenders’ register.

A impact statement from the victim will be handed to the judge in time for the sentencing hearing.

The jury acquitted Lawler of two counts of rape, one of indecency with a child and two others of indecent assault.

Lawler had denied all the charges, saying that a bladder operation had left him impotent and medically incapable of having sex two years before the offences were said to have started.

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