Lawrence Jones, the founder and former CEO of Manchester tech firm UKFast, has denied raping and drugging two young women in the 1990s after taking the stand for the first time.
On day five of the trial at Manchester Crown Court yesterday, the 55-year-old told the jury “it’s not true” as he faces allegations that he ‘stupefied’ two women with differing drugs and raped them separately at his Salford flat.
He denies both allegations, arising during a time when he was working as a hotel bar pianist in Manchester before he found success as a tech entrepreneur.
The first woman alleges she was raped by Jones after she had gone back to his flat after being overly affected by drinking a glass of red wine and smoking a few puffs of what she believed to be cannabis.
A second woman alleges she was raped after Jones asked her to sniff from a bottle with clear liquid inside.
As he gave evidence, Jones told the court he could not recall meeting the first complainant.
His barrister, Eleanor Laws KC, asked whether Jones drugged the first woman. “Absolutely not,” he replied. On whether he raped her, he said: “No.”
Admitting to the court that he smoked cannabis in the 1990s and “occasionally” used amyl nitrate – known as ‘poppers’ – typically at nightclubs at the time, Jones said it had effects that “feel nice” although only lasted minutes.
On the second woman, he agreed he knew her “very well” and they had consensual sex on a “couple of occasions” before he asked to cool things off as he thought she wanted a “long-term relationship”.
Quizzed on whether he gave the second woman drugs or raped her, he answered: “Absolutely not, no.”
When under cross-examination by Eloise Marshall KC for the prosecution, Jones again insisted he had not met the first woman and repeatedly denied her allegations.
Asked when he would usually introduce poppers during sex, Jones answered: “To be graphic, normally near the end when you orgasm.” He insisted this was only when consensual with a “woman’s permission first.”
Marshall asked if he gave the second woman poppers to sniff before raping her, Jones denied this, answering: “It never happened.”
It was put to Jones that it was ‘strange’ and he was accused of lying as both women – who had not met or were aware of each other at the time – described to police an identical layout of a two-bed flat where they were alleged to have been raped. Jones claims he was living in a four-bed flat in Salford in the 1990s.
When faced with the claims he had raped both of his accusers, Jonies replied: “I have not raped either of these two women. It’s not true.”
The trial continues.