Lawrence Jones: Multi-millionaire former UKFast boss jailed for 15 years for sex attack

Former UKFast boss has been jailed for 15 years for committing two rapes and a sexual assault.
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Multi-millionaire tech entrepreneur Lawrence Jones has been jailed for 15 years for committing two rapes and a sexual assault. The 55-year-old, who is a former boss of Manchester-based web hosting provider UKFast, was convicted in January of a female employee.

A second trial found him guilty of drugging and raping two women when he was a hotel bar pianist in the 1990s. The father-of-four set up UKFast with his wife in September 1999 and went on a deal with more than 5,000 clients including the NHS, the Ministry of Defence and the Cabinet Office. With around 500 staff including many young people, UKFast's success led to Jones becoming an MBE in 2015 for services to the digital economy.

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A judge at Manchester Crown Court imposed a reporting restriction on the initial case to prevent media coverage and avoid influencing the jury in the subsequent trial. During the trial, it was revealed that Jones had left two women in a state of being "stupefied and partially conscious" before assaulting them.

One woman reported being given a substance at his flat, causing an immediate impact, while the other was heavily affected by a combination of wine and what she believed to be cannabis. She described feeling 'frozen', unable to resist as Jones engaged in sexual activity, as he asserted that he could act without consequence since no one knew of her presence.

The second woman, 'not completely conscious', described the encounter as "bizarre, fast, and opportunistic" to the police. The first trial's jury learned that an ex-employee had informed the police in January 2019 that Jones had assaulted her in 2010. Another woman testified that Jones sexually assaulted her during a 2013 business trip, resulting in a conviction for one count of sexual assault against her, while he was acquitted of charges related to the first complainant.

Jones, of Hale, Greater Manchester, had already spent 10 months in jail. And now, Jones received a 14-year sentence for one of the rapes, a seven-year concurrent jail term for the second and a 12-month consecutive custodial sentence for the sexual assault.

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Sentencing him on Friday at Manchester Crown Court, Judge Sarah Johnston told Jones: “The three offences highlight that you thought you could behave with impunity. They are characterised by entitlement, dominance and a total lack of regard for the rights and freedoms of these three women and, in my view, an element of sinister premeditation.”

Judge Johnston said he had enjoyed a period of “remarkable success in business… with all the wealth and privilege that comes with it” but had created a workplace environment that was “tainted by his attitude to women”.

Manchester Crown CourtManchester Crown Court
Manchester Crown Court

Jones would make inappropriate and sexual comments which he passed off as “banter”, said the judge, and women were subjected to unwanted attention.

She said the defendant’s “sinister side was laid bare” with his behaviour towards the young employee he sexually assaulted in a hotel. The judge told him: “I am satisfied you had a sexual encounter in mind from the outset. She was shocked, scared and confused. She was then belittled and blamed by you for being unprofessional – turning the true narrative entirely on its head.”

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The judge said Jones, a “confident” man then in his mid-20s, was a successful pianist on the Manchester hotel scene who was already showing entrepreneurial skills. She added: “You were however already developing a proprietorial and misogynistic view of women.”