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Women 'helped guru lure in rape victims'

A serial rapist "masquerading as a guru" was helped by groups of women to lure in female victims, a court heard today.

Michael Lyons, who used the name Mohan Singh, surrounded himself with "young, charming" women who told others that he could change their lives.

He is accused of taking advantage of "vulnerable" people, plying them with drinks which made them feel confused and creating a cult-like atmosphere by burning mysterious herbs.

Under the pretext of bogus health treatments he would give his victims acupuncture or massages before raping or sexually assaulting them.

Lyons, 52, from Brondesbury Park in Kilburn, north London, even persuaded one of the women, who was mentally ill, that she had been sexually abused by her parents.

Prosecutor Philip Katz QC told Wood Green Crown Court: "He is a sexual predator masquerading as a guru and a healer.

"He has for many years now been at the centre of a group of followers, overwhelmingly women, some of whom have been part of his circle for many years.

"The prosecution allege that this group...has actually been operating as a kind of cult."

He said that the victims were all "vulnerable women for a variety of reasons" and were sucked into the group, reassured by the presence of other females.

"Some of the existing members were actually actively helping to create opportunities for this defendant to take sexual advantage of new recruits," Mr Katz said.