A WHEELCHAIR-bound champion of the disabled was jailed for 30 months today after a judge heard how he molested and sexually assaulted a teenage girl.

Mark Fysh, who was also a Unison branch secretary for Oxfordshire, had claimed in court he was disabled and could not have carried out the sexual abuse, but a jury rejected his story and convicted him of seven counts on indecent assaults and two charges of indecency with a child.

The 60-year-old, who carried out the abuse in the 1980s, had told the jury: "I utterly refute all allegations. It didn't happen, it could not happen, it is just not possible.”

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He claimed he suffered from a condition he described as 'buried penis' and that spontaneous acts of sex abuse would have been impossible.

Fysh, who was well know as a union secretary and received acclaim for his working helping fellow disabled people, was jailed by a judge who told him he had caused psychological harm to his victim and had made efforts to cover his tracks.

He will serve 15 months in prison and the other half of the sentence on licence.

Fysh, of Whitecross, Wootton, near Abingdon, was wheeled into the dock today via a specially adapted ramp to hear his fate at Reading Crown Court.

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Judge Nigel Daly, who presided over the trial at Oxford Crown Court, heard that Fysh had developed a relationship with his victim, who at the time was aged between 13 and 15, and successfully groomed her when she was at her most vulnerable.

Fysh was well known to the victim’s parents and would often 'sit and watch TV and cuddle' with their daughter, especially when she was most emotionally vulnerable.

Judge Daly heard that the nature of Fysh’s interactions with his victim rapidly escalated and he would begin touching his victim inappropriately when he could and would 'steal her away upstairs' to kiss her without being seen.

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Outlining the case, prosecutor Charles Evans said the touching happened on a regular basis, adding: "He would say he could go to prison. In her mind they were secret boyfriend and girlfriend. She did not want to get him into trouble."

The most serious of the incidents happened when Fysh asked his victim to lie down on her bed, after he had kissed her.

He then proceeded to sexually abuse her, despite being substantially older than his victim at the time as well as her being clearly uncomfortable with his actions, the prosecutor told Judge Daly.

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Fysh's victim said she took decades to reveal to friends, her husband and her family that she had been abused and that her mental health was suffering because of it.

She said: “I now suffer from anxiety and depression and I live with constant nightmares. I have to tell my husband and children not to sneak up on me because I become terrified.

“My education was massively affected by these events, especially in sixth form, causing me to fail my A-Levels. It caused a breakdown at work which I had 20 years ago while working for Wiltshire Police. That cost me my job.

“It has impacted on me so much that I can’t deal with my children bringing their friends around to the house. I rarely ever feel safe and I can’t watch the news or hear news stories because I cannot cope with the chance I will see something that brings back those memories.”

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Her statement added: "If there was one thing I could change, it would be that my dad wouldn’t be so hurt by all of this.”

Defence counsel Tunde Okewale told the judge: “Mr Fysh has suffered suicidal thoughts since these allegations began and says he has been feeling depressed. Furthermore, due to his condition he urgently needs to have a hip replacement.

“If he can’t access the surgery needed for his hip replacement, he won’t be able to be mobile outside of his wheelchair.”

Jailing Fysh, Judge Daly said: “There were some aggravating features contributing to this sentencing. Firstly, there was some attempt to prevent people becoming aware of what had happened and secondly, psychological harm has been caused.”