A man found guilty of rape after lying about having had a vasectomy is appealing against the convictions.
Jason Lawrance’s convictions were thought to be the first of their kind and could have wider implications for others who deceive sexual partners.
A woman had consented to having sex with Lawrance but was only told by him later he was still fertile. She got pregnant and had an abortion.
The jury found her consent was negated by his lie about the vasectomy.
His legal team is only challenging the conviction relating to the vasectomy deceit and not the serial rapist’s other convictions for multiple attacks on other women, who he targeted through the Match.com dating site.
Shaun Draycott, his solicitor, said: “Following the convictions recorded in this case, an application for leave to appeal has been lodged with the Court of Appeal and there is optimism with regard to its prospect of success.
“If these convictions are upheld on appeal, the concern is that members of the public, both male and female, who have never been considered criminals in the eyes of the law will be at risk of prosecution for serious sexual offences.”
Who is Jason Lawrance?
Jason Lawrance, originally from Leicestershire, was given a life sentence in 2016 for raping five women, attempting to rape one woman, and sexually assaulting another.
The assaults took place between June 2011 and November 2014 in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire.
He met the women through online dating site Match.com – which was also how he met his wife – and Dating Direct.
Lawrance, now 54, went on trial again in July accused of raping and sexually assaulting six more women. One of these was the woman he deceived about having had a vasectomy.
He was convicted of five charges of rape, one charge of sexual assault and a further charge of assault by penetration. He was found not guilty of two charges of rape.
How did Lawrance lie about the vasectomy?
Lawrance and the woman were texting each other before they met and he told her he had undergone “the snip” in a discussion about contraception.
The woman checked with him in person when they met up for sex, and Lawrance again said he had undergone a vasectomy.
They had sex twice and Lawrance left in the middle of the night.
He later texted her saying: “I have a confession. I’m still fertile. Sorry. xxx”
Lawrance’s text messages were used as evidence he had deceived the woman, and that he knew the woman would not have consented to sex without contraception.
He was charged with two counts of rape because he had sex with the woman twice.
Why was he convicted for the vasectomy deceit?
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 says a person commits rape if the other person “does not consent to the penetration” or they “do not reasonably believe” the person consents.
Section 74 of the act specifies that a person consents if he or she “agrees by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice”.
Clive Stockwell QC, prosecuting Lawrance, told jurors that because he deceived the woman, this had “robbed her of her freedom of choice”.
“Her consent was obtained by a deception,” he said in his opening. “That, we submit, is not true consent.”
However, defence barrister David Emanuel QC said classing it as rape was “taking it too far”.
“The big question is can a lie turn consensual sex into non-consensual?” he asked the jury. “This is why the case is like no others. We had a note [from a member of the jury] asking ‘is lying about the snip classed as rape?’
“You have absolutely hit the nail on the head. The answer is it is up to you.”
The jury decided it was rape and found Lawrance guilty of those two charges.
What are the wider implications?
Sandra Paul, a solicitor who specialises in cases of sexual misconduct, predicted the convictions would lead to more cases of this kind coming before the courts.
“This decision, particularly if it’s publicised, is going to give people confidence to approach the police,” said Ms Paul, a partner at Kingsley Napley.
“The fact this conviction exists now sets a precedent and opens the door to make future convictions in similar cases more likely.
“However, any jury will have to look at the facts of a case and make a decision based on the evidence.”
She said the jury being aware of Lawrance’s previous convictions probably influenced their decision.
“If this was Joe Bloggs with no previous convictions, might they say that was a bad thing to do but not a criminal thing to do?” she asked.
She felt more guidance was needed from a higher court because of the wider implications, and said a judgment from the Court of Appeal would give this.