Rapist tech tycoon Lawrence Jones is jailed for 15 years
Rapist tech tycoon Lawrence Jones is jailed for 15 years: £700m mogul once dubbed ‘Britain’s nicest boss’ is locked up for drugging and attacking two women 30 years ago while working as a hotel bar pianist
A disgraced multi-millionaire tech tycoon was today slammed as ‘arrogant’ and ‘misogynistic’ by a judge as she jailed him for 15 years for sex attacks on three women.
Lawrence Jones, 55, who was once dubbed ‘Britain’s nicest boss’, behaved with ‘entitlement, dominance and a total lack of regard for the rights and freedoms of women’, Judge Sarah Johnston told him.
She said the success of the £700million business empire Jones created with his ‘loyal’ wife hid the reality of a workplace that was ‘tainted by your attitude to women’.
The father of four had built a reputation as a business guru, playing chess against Sir Richard Branson on Necker Island and regularly featuring on the BBC.
Staff at his Manchester-based web hosting firm UKFast enjoyed perks including an on-site bar, ice rink, recording studio and even a ‘den’ for taking naps.
The businessman – seen outside court – pounced on both women at his flat while earning a living as a musician in the early 1990s. Pictured outside Manchester Crown Court in January
Former tech tycoon Lawrence Jones was last week found guilty of drugging and raping two women
Jones’ loyal wife Gail, pictured today leaving Manchester Crown Court after his sentence, had stood by him during the trial. The couple share four daughters
Lawrence Jones arriving at Manchester Crown court earlier this year with wife Gail
Jones’s success saw him appointed MBE in 2015 for services to the digital economy (pictured with wife Gail)
Lawrence Jones, once known as ‘Britain’s nicest boss’, pictured with his wife Gail
Manchester Crown Court heard how Jones, then in his 20s, called one woman a ‘pr*** tease’ before pouncing on her after he had given her a glass of red wine and they had shared a spliff. He then told the woman: ‘So do I have to teach you a lesson (or) are you just gonna let me f*** you.’
READ MORE – The stunning downfall of tycoon Lawrence Jones as he’s found guilty of rape
Jones, from Hale Barns, went onto rape another woman in his flat after telling her she was ‘gorgeous’ before telling her to sniff from a medicine bottle containing clear liquid. The woman said she felt ‘helpless’ before Jones climbed on top of her.
The court heard that at a trial in January, he had also been convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in a hotel room during a business trip in the early 2010s. She claimed Jones had told her she needed to ‘look like a Bond girl’ and had grabbed her legs as they sat on a sofa, saying: ‘Let me see your knickers.’
The millionaire then tried to push her thighs apart and get on top of her, she alleged, as she cried out: ‘No!’
‘He was pulling my dress down, pulling the top down,’ she added. ‘I was terrified, I was really scared. I felt like he was trying to have sex with me if I’m being honest. It was almost like I was his.’
A reporting restriction was imposed by a judge prohibiting the media from reporting on the case, so that the jury in his second trial – where he faced two counts of rape – would not be prejudiced by press coverage. The judge lifted the order after Jones was convicted of raping two women in the 1990s.
Prosecutor Eloise Marshall KC said there was ‘significant planning’ in the offending, with ‘additional degradation’ for one of the victims.
In a statement, one woman said her ordeal ‘completely destroyed her’ and that she buried her emotional response but not the memory. ‘The memories came flooding back time and time again and I felt shock, disgust, repulsion, revulsion and anger at not being able to keep myself safe and stop the perpetrator from raping me,’ she said.
Jones was appointed MBE for services to the digital economy in the 2015 New Years Honours list (pictured with his medal)
Before his downfall, the father-of-four had built a £700million fortune and a reputation as a business guru, playing chess against Sir Richard Branson
The two rapes he was convicted of last week took place in a flat in Salford, Greater Manchester between 1993 and 1994 when Jones was about 25.
But the victims did not come forward until ‘many years’ later, by which time Jones was ‘in the public eye’ as a result of becoming a successful entrepreneur.
The first victim, Woman A, met Jones while working in Manchester city centre.
She took a dislike to Jones after his response when she was ‘complaining’ about her ‘love life’, prosecutor Eloise Marshall KC told jurors.
Jones allegedly told her ‘well you just need a damn good seeing to, you just need a good f******, don’t you?’.
According to Woman A, ‘she not only disagreed with his politics but found him arrogant’.
However in late 1993, Jones asked her to come to his flat for a drink and a ‘chat’ so they could ‘get to know one another’.
She agreed and arrived alone at the ‘dimly lit’ flat after midnight, where Jones poured her a glass of wine – probably red – before rolling a ‘spliff’.
He then sat down next to her – ‘manspreading towards her on the sofa’, she later recalled – while she had a couple of drags on the joint and one glass of wine.
But the woman would later say her memories of what happened are ‘like snapshots or freeze frames’.
She later told police she recalled going to the toilet and feeling ‘ill’ – ‘spaced out, very floaty and not… right at all’.
Jones inside the Salford flat where the rapes took place. One of the women described him as having poor hygiene Pictured: Jones in his flat in the 90s
A young Jones on the phone inside the messy apartment in Salford in the 90s
In another ‘flash of memory’, she remembered Jones standing with his arms around her.
She felt ‘very strange, as if her body wasn’t her own, she felt numb’.
Then she recalled ‘falling backwards onto the bed’ and ‘coming round’ to find Jones ‘kissing her neck and her chest passionately with one hand going around her waist onto her back and the other hand on her left breast’.
At this point she believes she was bare-legged and had no top on. She believes she asked Jones something like ‘What are you doing?’
But he responded with something like ‘it’ll be our secret’ and ‘it’ll be good for you’, she said.
Jones pictured at the time he was earning a living as a hotel pianist
The woman said Jones warned her that he could do what he wanted to her because no-one knew she was there.
Her next memory was when she ‘came round’ the following morning, with Jones booking her a taxi so she wouldn’t be late for work.
She felt ‘really, really rough, really sick with a headache as if she had had a big night out’ rather than how she would expect to feel after just one glass of wine.
Feeling ‘numb’ and ‘in shock’, she went home after her shift and had a shower.
On finding out about the allegations against Jones, Woman A said she physically wretched and felt ‘disgusted and guilty’.
‘I felt that if I stepped forward sooner I could have prevented what happened to those other women. Their lives, their sense of self being ripped from them in the most violent way possible,’ she said.
Judge Sarah Johnston told Jones he would serve 14 years for the rape of Woman A, concurrently with a sentence of seven years in respect of the rape committed on Woman B. He was ordered to serve a year, consecutively, for sexual assault.
Isla Chilton, Senior District Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West’s Rape and Serious Sexual Offence Unit, said: ‘Jones raped two women with no thought for how his actions would affect them.
‘By denying the offences, he compounded the harm to the women, attempting to evade responsibility for his actions. The jury saw through his lies and found him guilty.
‘The CPS worked hard with Greater Manchester Police to build a strong case to put before the jury. To support the victims, we applied for them to give evidence by video interview and to be cross examined behind a screen so they would not need to face their abuser in the courtroom.
‘I would like to thank the victims for supporting this prosecution and I hope this case will encourage others to seek justice. It’s never too late.’
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