UKFast founder Lawrence Jones convicted of rape
Ex-hosting biz boss to be sentenced for historic offences after being found guilty of earlier sexual assault
Lawrence Jones, the founder and former chief exec at hosting biz UKFast, is awaiting a prison sentence after being found guilty of raping two women in the Greater Manchester area.
The three-week jury trial at Manchester Crown Court culminated in a unanimous guilty verdict delivered yesterday. It follows a conviction of Jones in January for sexual assault against a third individual.
The allegations of sexual assault were brought to light in an investigation published by the Financial Times in 2019. Jones always denied the claims, and stood down from the Manchester-based hosting company that he founded in 1999 due to the publicity. He and his wife subsequently sold the company in May 2020.
The first woman ("A") to step forward, a former employee at UKFast, "bravely disclosed" that Jones sexually assaulted her in March 2019 while at a hotel on a business trip to London. She resigned, and documented the incident. Jones was interviewed in May that year and was subsequently charged with sexual assault.
In January 2021, a second woman ("B") said Jones drugged her at his apartment in Manchester in 1993, and after regaining consciousness she found Jones was "sexually assaulting her and raped her," said Greater Manchester Police. Jones had been dating her friend. She came forward after seeing the 2019 allegations of sexual assault against Jones.
A third woman ("C") had met Jones when he played piano at music events in pubs in the Manchester area. She and her partner became friendly with Jones. On one occasion, Jones entered her bedroom and is suspected of drugging the victim before "proceed[ing] to rape woman C." She reported the crime to police in 2022.
55-year-old Jones, of Brooks Drive in Hale Barns, Trafford, was subsequently charged with the rape of woman B and C. He pleaded not guilty but was convicted yesterday, and will be sentenced on December 1 for the offenses against all three women. He has remained in custody since the conviction in January, which could not be reported until now.
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Detective Constable Stewart of Greater Manchester Police said: "Firstly, we commend the immense courage shown by the women in both investigations for coming forward to disclose the traumatic experiences they have endured. Their bravery has been pivotal in bringing Lawrence Jones to account for his heinous actions and we want to express our deepest gratitude for their strength and resilience throughout this challenging investigation and trial.
"It is our sincere hope that this verdict sends a powerful message to survivors of rape and other sexual offences that their voices will be heard, and that justice can be achieved no matter when it happened or who was involved. No one should suffer in silence, and we encourage anyone who has been a victim of such crimes to come forward and report them to the police.
"We are here to support you, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions. The collaborative efforts of the victims, witnesses, and our dedicated investigative team were essential in uncovering the truth and securing this conviction.
"We understand the profound impact that such incidents can have on individuals, and we remain committed to providing support to those involved in this investigation and to those victims who reach out and disclose to us."
Jones, worth an estimated £700 million ($879 million) and a major donor of the Tory party, enjoyed the high life, owning a Ferrari convertible, a Porsche, Bentley, and Range Rover, in addition to multimillion-pound properties and a hotel in Switzerland.