A former professional rugby player has been jailed for sexually assaulting a teenage girl.

Christopher Brooks plied the then 15-year-old with vodka on February 22 2020, before kissing her on the lips and groping her.

Preston Crown Court heard the girl reported the assault to the police, but Brooks, of Church Street, Ribchester, denied the allegations and took the matter to trial.

In July, he was found guilty by a jury of three counts of sexual activity with a child.

Judge Darren Preston told the court he believed Brooks, whose rugby career ended after he became injured, had continued to deny any wrongdoing, and even suggested during the course of the trial that he had been set up.

Lancashire Telegraph: Christopher BrooksChristopher Brooks (Image: Lancs Police)

He said: “He continues to find new ways to deny the offences, and claimed during the course of the trial that this had been a set up.

“When you were arrested you denied the allegations, but your DNA was found on the inside of the victim’s bra.

“You then came up with offensive theories as to how the DNA came to be inside her bra – anything to avoid the truth of what happened that night, which is that you were guilty of the attack.”

During the sentencing hearing on Wednesday September 13, the brave victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, stood in court to read her impact statement, in which she said her “whole life had been affected massively” and “she couldn’t concentrate at school or stay in lessons which impacted her overall performance in her GCSEs”.

The victim’s mother also gave a statement in which she described the last three and a half years as being “a struggle” and said: “I hope after this ends today for us he will never destroy a child’s life again”.

Brooks, 34, has no previous convictions save for an old driving offence.

Mitigating, Kathryn Johnson said her client had come to court with a realistic attitude, and asked Judge Preston to impose the shortest sentence possible.

She said: “He started out as a professional rugby player but that ended. He has references which speak of him in high terms, and this was an isolated incident.”

Brooks was jailed for three and a half years and was told to sign the sex offender’s register for life.