Karate instructor jailed over sexual assaults on teenagers

A karate champion convicted of sexually assaulting teenagers has been jailed for two years. Andrew Sherry, a founder member of the Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB), was found guilty following a trial in March of indecently assaulting one boy, under the age of 16, in the mid-1980s, and of four counts of sexual assault on an older teenager in 2011 or 2012.

The trial heard the 80-year-old, a ninth dan black belt, founded the Red Triangle karate club in Everton, Liverpool, and achieved “prominence and standing” in the sport, before he retired in March 2022 after a police investigation was launched. Sentencing him, Judge David Swinnerton said: “You have lived a life in which you have been lauded and celebrated while your victims have suffered.”

He said although Sherry, who had no previous convictions, had a positive influence on many young people, it was clear his interest in young men went beyond an interest in their “sporting prowess”.

He said: “It is perhaps a tragedy for you, your karate club and those who will be impacted, but particularly for your victims, that you were unable to exercise the discipline and self control which I understand is central to karate when it came to your sexuality.”

During the trial, Sherry’s defence team claimed the allegations were the result of a conspiracy by other practitioners who wanted to “overthrow their leader”.

The court heard Sherry had assaulted one boy in the mid-1980s and asked him to perform “special favours”. The boy said Sherry had wrestled with him while at his bungalow in West Derby, Liverpool, before taking him to Knowsley Safari Park where he spoke about monkeys having sex.

The court heard the complainant had since struggled with alcohol and gone on to commit criminal offences. The judge said: “You had an impact on him psychologically which has had lasting echoes on him throughout his life.”

The second complainant, who was 18 at the time of the assaults, said Sherry massaged him on the buttocks and kissed him on the lips on more than one occasion. Andrew Ford KC, prosecuting, told the court the victim said Sherry made him think “he had a real shot at becoming something special”.

He added: “His life became one of confusion, betrayal, distrust and worry about how he would be touched.”

Two other men, who Sherry was not charged with offences against, claimed he had propositioned them in the 1990s. The judge said: “This is an abuse of trust, undoubtedly.

“You were their mentor, their teacher, their idol and you abused that position and groomed them.”

Tania Griffiths KC, defending, told the court it was not accepted that the life of the first victim had been “ruined by alcoholism caused by any abuse” and said an impact statement from the second complainant, who sat at the back of court, was “exaggerated”.

The court heard Sherry was planning to appeal against the convictions. Ms Griffiths said: “He has lost everything by these convictions. He’s lost his good name, lost his reputation and lost his world standing.”

Sherry, of Mann Island, Liverpool, showed no emotion in the dock as he was jailed. Detective constable Phil Youds, of Merseyside Police, said: “We welcome today’s sentencing, which follows a long and complex investigation into Sherry, who used his status in the karate community to take advantage of his young victims, at his home and a karate club.

“The repeated denials of Sherry has further prolonged the suffering of his victims, and I’d like to take this opportunity to praise their courage in coming forward and assisting our investigation, especially in light of others looking to discredit their experiences.

“For victims of such an appalling crime, the impact on them has been significant and long-lasting. I hope this sentence provides some comfort in knowing they did the right thing in reporting Sherry to police.”