A former Scarborough councillor and well-known publican has been jailed for 20 months for sexually assaulting a young girl.
Anthony Burnard, known as Tony, appeared for sentence on Monday after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a girl under 13 years of age.
Burnard, 79, the former chairman of Scarborough Football Club and also renowned for his charitable works when he was landlord at the Trafalgar Hotel in Scarborough, sexually assaulted the girl after luring her into bed, York Crown Court heard.
Prosecutor Matthew Collins said the ex-Scarborough borough and county councillor touched the youngster on an intimate part of her body after pulling her trousers down at a property in Scarborough.
Burnard - who appeared for sentence via video link from Doncaster Crown Court because of his mobility issues - had denied pulling the girl’s trousers down and claimed to have touched the girl accidentally above her clothes, in June last year.
He entered his guilty plea on this basis, but this was dismissed by judge Simon Hickey following a ‘trial of issue’ in December.
Mr Hickey said he had “no hesitation” in finding that Burnard had pulled the victim’s trousers down before sexually assaulting her.
The court heard that the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, left the room crying following the assault.
At the adjourned sentence hearing on Monday morning, Burnard’s barrister Rob Stephenson cited glowing character references attesting to his client’s reputation in Scarborough.
Burnard’s brother, the Reverend Clive Burnard, said in a statement that he and his family had “feelings of shame” for his older brother’s actions.
The former councillor was someone the clergyman and his family had “respected and looked up to”.
Burnard, of Cromwell Terrace, was a “positive local businessman employing many of the local community… (and) someone who has raised significant amounts for his charitable causes”.
He had led a hitherto-blameless life, but there had been a “downturn” in his life following the death of his wife Joan - described as his “partner in love and business” - and he began to drink more.
His increased drinking and serious ill health had contributed to Burnard committing the sexual offences, the court heard.
Burnard, who now uses a wheelchair, suffered from several long-standing health issues including heart disease, diabetes, serious back problems and glaucoma. He had undergone numerous operations and was on daily medication.
“Custody would be extremely difficult for someone of Mr Burnard’s ill health,” said Mr Stephenson.
“He’s lost his good character; people will look at him in a different light as a result, which is also a great punishment in his late stage of life.”
Burnard, who had worked in the licensed trade for over 50 years before his retirement, said during the trial of issue: “I’m sorry (for) whatever has happened. I’ve been misconstrued. In all sincerity, whatever I did, I didn’t mean to do it. It was taken out of context by (the police) and everybody else.”
But judge Mr Hickey said Burnard had sexually assaulted an “extremely young” girl and that there was “clear evidence” that he had pulled her trousers down before doing so.
“I take the view that…. you took the opportunity to abuse her,” added Mr Hickey.
Burnard will serve half of the 20-month jail sentence behind bars before being released on parole. He was also placed on the sex-offenders’ register for 10 years.