April 2023

Ex-Harrogate Lib Dem candidate jailed for abusing girl

Former Harrogate Liberal Democrat candidate Anthony Medri has been jailed for over two years for sexually abusing a schoolgirl and paying her to send him intimate photos of herself.

Medri, 64, from Knaresborough, sexually assaulted the girl on several occasions and sent her a picture of an intimate part of his body, York Crown Court heard.

The Harrogate Borough Council candidate in 2015 also urged her to send him indecent pictures of herself, said prosecutor Shaun Dodds.

He said that Medri, who is married, had sexually assaulted the youngster by touching her on intimate parts of her body and kissing her on the lips.

Medri asked the girl on social media if she had “ever seen a grown man’s (private parts)”. He then sent her an intimate picture of himself and told her to delete the messages.

Mr Dodds said that in 2017, Medri started transferring money into the girl’s bank account and asking her what she was wearing.

This was followed by a request for a picture of her in her underwear and a promise to pay her £50 if she sent it.

Mr Dodds said:“She sent an image of herself wearing a bra. “He had previously bought her some underwear…and asked her for photos wearing that underwear.”

The prosecutor said that between 2017 and 2019, £580 of payments were made into the victim’s account for intimate photos of her.

Mr Dodds added: “Sometimes she would also get payments in cash as well.”

Medri – who stood unsuccessfully as a candidate for the Lib Dems in the 2015 local elections when he contested the Stray ward – initially gave the girl money so she could treat herself, which the prosecution said was part of the grooming process.

He would tell the girl “to get yourself something nice”, said Mr Dodds.

The victim “wasn’t in a good place” at the time and she felt that Medri used this to take advantage of her difficult circumstances.

He bought her treats such as perfume, clothes, tobacco and vodka – along with a sex toy and told her to “try it out”. The victim put the item in a bin.

Mr Dodds said that on the occasions Medri tried to kiss the girl, she would pull away, but he would kiss her again. He once drove her to a remote location where he sexually assaulted her.

Medri was ultimately brought in for questioning and accepted having asked for pictures of the girl in her underwear and that he had given her money, but initially denied sexually assaulting her.

A trial was due to be held but Medri ultimately admitted one count of intentionally causing a child to look at an image of a person engaging in a sexual act, three counts of sexual assault and three counts of causing or inciting the sexual exploitation of a child to become a prostitute or be involved in pornography, namely asking the girl for photos of herself in her underwear.

Mr Medri, of Forest Moor Road, appeared for sentence today when the court heard a harrowing statement from the young victim.

She said she had been left with the “overwhelming” feeling that she was somehow at fault for the abuse.

This and the fact that Medri had protested his innocence for so long had caused her “extreme anxiety”.

She added: “I don’t think I will ever get over what has happened. I think about it every single day.”

Judge Sean Morris told Medri he should have owned up to his offences “a long time ago” and described his protestations of innocence until his belated guilty pleas as “gutless”.

He told Medri: “For heaven’s sake man, why did you put this girl through all those months of anguish waiting for (what was expected to be) a trial. It’s gutless.”

He said that only an immediate prison sentence was appropriate for inciting a young girl “in a vulnerable position to sell pictures of (herself) for Medri’s “sexual pleasure”.

The judge said that Medri had taken advantage of the girl when she was in a “desperate state” because of her life circumstances.

Medri was jailed for two years and two months, but he will only serve half of that behind bars before being released on prison licence.

Medri was also given a five-year sexual-harm prevention order to protect children and placed on the sex-offenders’ register for 10 years.