Tycoon convicted of rape freed after parole appeal

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The Independent Online
THE DISGRACED tycoon, Owen Oyston, was released from jail yesterday after serving three and a half years of a six-year sentence for the rape of a 16-year-old girl.

Mr Oyston, 65, the former chairman of Blackpool Football Club, was released on parole from Wealston Prison in Wetherby, West Yorkshire.

He was jailed at Liverpool Crown Court in May 1996 for what the trial judge, Mr Justice McCullough, called "horrendous offences". Mr Oyston was convicted of raping the girl in a three-in-a-bed sex session at his country home, Claughton Hall, in Lancashire, in 1992.

The tycoon, said to be worth pounds 40m, has successfully appealed against a Parole Board decision not to grant him parole because he had not admitted to his crime. Had he not won his appeal, the former estate agent would have been released in May next year, having served two-thirds of his sentence.

His wife Vicki, 59, a former beauty queen, has stood by her husband during his prison sentence and campaigned for his release. When the Parole Board turned down his application earlier this year, she said: "The appalling irony is that if he was prepared to lie and say he is guilty he would be home with us in a matter of weeks."

The businessman, who once owned the Miss World title, reached an out- of-court settlement with his victim, now 23, earlier this year, after she brought a claim for psychological damage following the rape.

Mr Oyston said after leaving prison: "I am pleased to be going home but there will be no celebrations until my name is cleared." He claims he is the victim of a "dirty tricks" conspiracy by two former government ministers. Yesterday, he repeated his conspiracy claims, alleging that three months before his arrest police were told by a businessman in the Midlands that he had paid a woman pounds 5,000 to "set Owen up".

Dale Campbell-Savours, the Labour MP for Workington, has asked the Criminal Cases Review Commission to take up the case.