A wealthy businessman who ran a successful family roofing/construction company and livery yard has been jailed after being convicted of grooming and sexually assaulting a teenage girl.

Grant Findley, who has no previous convictions, is said to remain in denial over the offences of which he was found guilty following a trial at Durham Crown Court, in February.

His downfall came about after his highly inappropriate conduct to his victim was reported to police in January 2022, culminating in him standing trial at the court in late January, this year.

Following a nine-day hearing, the 42-year-old defendant, of Stream Valley Farm, Burnhope, County Durham, was found guilty of ten counts of sexual activity with a child and one of meeting a child following sexual grooming.

The Northern Echo: Successful businessman Grant Findley jailed  for sex offences committed on underage teenage girl

Paul Cleasby, prosecuting, told the sentencing hearing the defendant was fully aware of the victim’s age throughout and told her she could not tell anyone what he was doing as he knew it was illegal.

Mr Cleasby said another aggravating feature of the case was the defendant’s attempt to undermine the victim’s credibility and present her as, “a troublemaker and infatuated by his status”.

He added that the defendant was, “persistent with his conduct with the victim, despite her making it clear she had no interest in him.”

She then read a victim statement to the court in which she spoke of the “massive impact” his behaviour has had on her and her family.

It led to her leaving part-time jobs and education courses, as she was suffering PTSD as an after-effect of Findley’s offending.

She said she has found the last few years, “very trying”, enduring doubts about her self-image and struggling to cope with anxiety.

But she added that following the trial verdicts: “I’m happy I was believed.”

The girl’s mother also spoke of the emotional trauma the case has caused her daughter and the family in general.

Jamie Hill KC, representing Findley, said the defendant is aware of the position he is in, having had a trial, despite continuing to deny his guilt.

“He’s a man of 42 with no previous convictions.

“He’s come from fairly humble beginnings and improved himself academically, turning himself to business to create a successful business, creating a lot of work for other people.

“He’s a man who has worked all his life.

“This period for the defendant has not been replicated throughout any other period of his life.

“Despite his denials, one can hope it was a one-off situation.”

The Northern Echo: Convicted sex offender Grant Findley remains in denial of offences on which he was found guilty

Mr Hill presented four testimonials for the court on behalf of the defendant, references given by people who have, “remained loyal to him despite his conviction”.

He said they speak of him, “giving something back” through his charitable work throughout the time he has run the business.

But he said the consequences of his conviction have been “far-reaching” for the defendant.

“I appreciate those listening to this will have little sympathy with him and regard his current situation to be self-inflicted.”

Mr Hill said the defendant has suffered a lot of online humiliation since the conviction as word spread around social media sites, leading to online threats for his family and even his workforce.

He has had to abandon the business, stepping away from involvement and “effectively giving it away”, so the workforce can continue in employment.

Mr Hill said money taken out of the business by the defendant is to be frozen following an application by his former wife’s solicitors, leaving him with no income, and his only asset being his home.

“He has fallen from a considerable height.

“In short, whatever the court’s punishment today, he has already experienced life-changing circumstances.”

The Northern Echo:

Judge Jo Kidd told Findley she has read his references which speak highly of him in the general environment and livery yard he runs close to his home.

But she described his conduct with his victim as, “a profoundly cynical and manipulative pattern of behaviour.”

Judge Kidd told Findley: “Your perception of yourself and women was profoundly warped and misogynistic.

“Your belief is your relationship with women is essentially transactional.”

The judge said it would have been obvious to anyone listening to the case that the victim was not interested in him, “whatsoever”.

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She imposed a three-year prison sentence, of which the defendant must serve up to half behind bars before his release subject to licence.

Findley was made subject of future restrictions under a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, plus notification requirements as a sex offender, both indefinitely.

The judge also put in place an indefinite restraining order forbidding him from any future approaches or contact with the victim and her family.