Father of three found guilty of raping women he met on match.com in Spalding and St Ives

Derby Crown CourtDerby Crown Court
Derby Crown Court
A father-of-three has been found guilty of raping five women after meeting them on internet dating site match.com.

Jason Lawrance, described by police as a “sexual predator”, contacted thousands of women online and committed three sex attacks months after getting married to someone he met via the site.

The 50-year-old was also found guilty of attempting to rape and sexually assault two other women after chatting to them online.

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Derby Crown Court heard that in July 2013 Lawrance met a 54-year-old woman through match.com and the pair went for drinks near the woman’s home in Spalding.

They then returned to her home where he asked if he could stay over. The woman agreed on the condition that he sleeps on the sofa.

During the night, the woman woke up with an “awful weight” on her while Lawrance attempted to rape her. The victim called out for her 16-year-old son and Lawrance grabs his clothes and leaves.

In October 2014 Lawrance met a woman via the website and they had consensual sex in a hotel in St Ives in Cambridgeshire, before going out for a walk and a meal.

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The woman then asked to use the toilet in Lawrance’s room before she drove home. At this point, he ripped her tights off, tied her hands behind her back and raped her.

Derby Crown Court heard that four of the victims complained about Lawrance to match.com, and one of the women was told administrators could not do anything because he had not sent abusive messages through the site.

Lawrance, a former company director turned self-employed builder, texted one of his victims after attacking her apologising for “hurting her” and saying: “When you were crying out for me to stop I couldn’t, I’m so mad at myself xxx.”

He was arrested after a friend of a woman who was raped in Derbyshire in November 2014 went to police.

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Investigations revealed he had sexually attacked another six women he met through the site since June 2011.

Prosecuting, Shaun Smith QC told the jury that Lawrance - who used the site with the profile names KeepItStraightToday and StraightMan_Looking - was a Jekyll and Hyde character and that he targeted “vulnerable, naive, lonely women”.

Detective Chief Inspector Allison Rigby, from Derbyshire Police, said the trial had been “devastating” for the victims.

She said: “I certainly think he is a sexual predator who has preyed on women through match.com that he has met who have got (some) vulnerability.

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“He seems to have targeted females who are divorced and widowed.

“Only Jason Lawrance will know how many people he has sexually assaulted - it is possible that there are other people out there.

“I would say (the victims) have been very brave in the fact they have come forward to give evidence and confront him in court.

“I just hope once this case is finished, they can move forward and start to rebuild their lives.”

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She added that she hoped the case would give dating sites the chance to ensure they have a “robust process” for dealing with complaints and they can remove someone in a “timely manner” if issues are raised.

Lawrance, of Liphook, Hampshire, had denied all the charges and said the sex was consensual in all five charges of rape, that the attempted rape was a misunderstanding and that the sexual assault where he grabbed a woman’s breast was a “loving touch” which she objected to, so he apologised.

The jury took 10 hours find Lawrance guilty of all charges.

Judge Gregory Dickinson remanded him in custody until his sentencing on Thursday morning.