A man has been jailed for life after being convicted of raping, and assaulting divorced or widowed women he met on dating website Match.com.
Jason Lawrance, 50, of Liphook, Hampshire.
Jason Lawrance, 50, of Arundel Close, Liphook, Hampshire was described by detective chief inspector Allison Rigby—who led the police investigation—as “a prolific, serial rapist who preyed on women he had contacted through Match.com.”
On Wednesday, Lawrance was found guilty of five counts of rape, one of attempted rape, and one count of sexual assault by a jury at Derby Crown Court, following a two-week long trial.
DCI Rigby said that Lawrance had contacted his victims online but “would quickly move the conversation outside [the] Match.com system.” He went on to rape, try to rape, or sexually assault the women.
However, he later claimed, when quizzed by police, that the women had consented to having sex with him.
“They absolutely did not,” said DCI Rigby.
During the inquiry, Lawrance’s activity on Match.com—which he had been a member of from 2009 to 2014—was sifted through by police.
The probe led the officers to “several further victims,” the Derbyshire constabulary said.
Match.com worked closely with the police force throughout the investigation, to help track down Lawrance’s victims across the country.
Senior Crown prosecutor Sue Matthews, of the CPS East Midlands rape and serious sexual offences team, said:
Jason Lawrance is a dangerous sexual predator. He has gone from victim to victim, targeting them through online dating sites.
Nobody should feel that meeting people through a dating site means that they are consenting to any sexual activity.
If a person does not consent to sexual activity and the perpetrator does not reasonably believe they are consenting, that is an offence, regardless of how the victim meets the perpetrator, or how well they know each other.
The victims in this case have shown real courage in telling the court about their ordeal.
It is their evidence that has made Lawrance face the consequences of his actions.
I would like to thank them all for coming forward and giving evidence.
Lawrance, who raped his first victim in 2011, had convinced the women to give him their personal details by claiming that he was unable to upload a photo of himself on to his Match.com profile. He then took the conversation away from the dating site, before arranging to meet his victims.
A Match.com spokesperson told the BBC that the company had the “most heartfelt concern” for the victims, and added that “the safety of our members is our highest priority.”
Lawrance was handed a life sentence on Thursday lunchtime at Derby Crown Court.
The 50-year-old will serve a minimum sentence of 12-and-a-half years.
This story was updated after publication with news of Jason Lawrance’s sentence.
This post originated on Ars Technica UK