September 2011

Karate instructor who had sex with girl pupil, 13, leading to her suicide is jailed for eight years

A karate instructor was jailed for eight years yesterday for tying up and having sex with a vulnerable 13-year-old girl who was later driven to suicide by the regular assaults.

Jaspal Riat, 48, had denied two charges of raping the schoolgirl, one charge of sexual assault and eight of sexual activity with a female child under 16. The charges were dated between February 2008 and May 2009.

Riat’s ‘despicable’ behaviour drove Dana Baker to kill herself when she was 16, Gloucester Crown Court heard.

Riat, from Birmingham, was cleared of the rape allegations and of the final charge of sexual activity with a child. However he was convicted of eight other charges.

The court heard that towards the end of their relationship Riat lost interest in her.

Miss Baker, from Kidderminster, told police after taking an overdose in May 2009 that she did it because she felt she had nothing to live for. 

She said she had told Riat what she was planning to kill herself ‘but he never once tried to stop me’. 

The schoolgirl also said that Riat told her: ‘Thank you for sacrificing yourself for me.’

On sentencing Riat, Judge Jamie Tabor QC said: ‘You seduced Dana when she was only 13 years of age, not quite 14, probably commencing in July/Aug 2008.

‘She was a particularly vulnerable child from a particularly vulnerable family. 

‘She was academically bright and excellent at karate. However, she was deeply lonely and for reasons I need not go into she had a very unhappy relationship with her mother and father, who were themselves vulnerable.

The judge continued: ‘You exploited that. I have no doubt at all that you identified her as a vulnerable child and exploited your position of trust so you could satisfy your own sexual proclivities.

‘It went on until at least the spring of 2009. For several months you used her in a thoroughly selfish and indeed despicable manner.

‘I have no doubt at all that your behaviour was at least partially responsible for her attempted suicide.

I am quite satisfied that your behaviour just before the time of her attempted suicide was dishonourable and callous.

‘She desperately needed your support and you abandoned her, apparently unconcerned whether she took her life or not. There is no direct link between her eventual suicide and your activities.

‘She was a virgin when you seduced her. Nine months later she had been introduced to almost every form of sexual activity by yourself.’

Dana’s parents Trevor and Patricia Baker who attended the trial said outside court they could now start to grieve properly for their daughter, who killed herself in March this year.

Mrs Baker, who is disabled, said: ‘I just hope that man rots in hell. He deserves far worse than he has got.

‘Ever since Dana died we have been accused by people of murdering our daughter or of sexually abusing her. I hope now they can see the truth.

‘It’s been terrible having to sit there and listen to everything he did to Dana. Any parent can understand how we have felt.

‘We just want to be left alone now to get on with grieving for our daughter. She was our only child, we loved her and she has been taken from us. We haven’t been able to grieve for her till now because of this case.’

Riat ran the KoshinRyu Academy of Martial Arts in Birmingham when he met the 13-year-old. 

Miss Baker was a pupil at Stourport High School and at the time of her death was training for a black belt in karate. She represented Great Britain at the WUKO World Junior Karate Championships in Italy in 2008.

The jury heard that Riat took her to Italy on that trip where he had sex with her.

The prosecution said Riat’s offences began after he took her upstairs at the karate club and kissed her.

Many of the subsequent offences happened at Riat’s home when her parents allowed her to stay after late night ‘personal training sessions’. 

Once she had made her allegations against Riat she was put into foster care and committed suicide in March this year.

The jury heard during the trial that it was in December 2008 that Dana broke her silence about her relationship with Riat when she spoke to the school nurse, Elizabeth Swann.

Riat was arrested but denied all allegations. He did not give evidence to the jury but stood by a statement in which he said all her allegations were false. 

The jury had not been told during the trial that Miss Baker had taken her own life. 

Following the verdict, prosecutor Alan Kent QC explained reasons why the trial had taken so long.

He said: ‘We don’t know the precise reasons for it but on March 3, 2011 she took her own life.’

Defence counsel David Mason QC told the court Riat was of previous good character and had spent most of his working life as a karate instructor. 

Mr Mason said: ‘His business is in ruins. He has the love and support of a very large family, some of whom have been here throughout the trial. They are all devastated by what has happened.’

As well as the eight-year jail term, Riat was ordered to sign the sex offender register for the rest of his life and was also banned for life from working with children.