Three victims of UKFast founder and rapist Lawrence Jones told Manchester Crown Court today about the devastating impact his crimes have had on their lives – leaving one feeling “destroyed”.
Jones was sentenced to 15 years in prison for two counts of raping young women in the 1990s, after a jury came to a unanimous decision during a three week trial in November. He was also convicted of sexually assaulting another woman during the early 2010s, following a trial in January.
He remained stony-faced behind a clear screen as the first of three heartbreaking victim impact statements were read out to the court. Behind a hidden screen on the other side of the courtroom, the first woman delivered her statement. Prior to September 1993, she said she was “secure” in herself and felt “happy and fearless.”
She continued: “That was completely destroyed when the perpetrator raped me.” The woman recalled how it affected both her personal and work relationships and that facing the memories were “too painful.”
That all changed when in 2017 she saw his success, how he’d become a multimillionaire, and a father to four.
“I felt sick to my stomach about who he’d become,” she said.
The emotional statement continued: “The perpetrators’ own insecure nature led him to commit these crimes in order to assert himself. Rape or sex crimes are never about sex, it’s about power, clearly what the perpetrator wanted to feel. Rapists are not born, they are created.”
After a lengthy process in the lead up to the trial, she explained she had suffered from “crippling anxiety attacks” and had “struggled to sleep, hardly ate and had severe flashbacks.”
Thanking her team, family and friends for their support, she also praised the jury for “seeing through the lies” of Jones.
In a damning end to the statement, she concluded: “Victims come in all shapes and sizes, together we can stand up to perpetrators. It shouldn’t be this damn hard.”
The second woman took to the stand to deliver her impact statement. She said she felt “sad” not just for the young version of herself, but for everyone involved in the case.
“He had targeted me, gained my trust then cornered me when no one was around,” she said. “Not only did he use me as his vessel when he drugged and raped me, he took my confidence away.”
She went on to explain how Jones had changed her view of men, which made her “distrust their motives” and left her “more weary of intimacy.”
Yet, years later, the woman said she can “now see him for who he is.” She thanked the judge, jury, police and her rape counsellor who, together, have helped “take him out of society,” as well as the first woman for coming forward.
The final impact statement came from the victim he was convicted of sexually assaulting in the 2010s. She said she had now “found justice for an assault over 10 years ago.”
Not only was it a “frightening assault,” she detailed how she was left feeling isolated following the assault.
It left her feeling “upset and anxious” for the rest of her adult life, and over the past 10 years has had counselling and medication for anxiety and depression.
“I will never get these 10 years back,” she said.
On sentencing, Judge Sarah Johnston said there was “no remorse” from Jones for his offending. As he was led down into the cells, remaining stony-faced, he mouthed “I love you” to his wife Gail, as family of Jones and families of the victims sobbed in the public gallery.