Oyston gets six years for rape

Chris Blackhurst
Thursday 23 May 1996 00:02 BST
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Owen Oyston, the owner of Blackpool Football Club, media tycoon and long-time Labour Party donor, was yesterday sentenced to six years in prison for raping and indecently assaulting a 16-year-old girl.

Mr Justice McCullough told him: "You were 58, she was 16. You were rich and powerful with a strong personality. She was young and vulnerable."

She had not, said the judge, "led you on in any way. As Miss B so accurately put it, 'he treated me as an object and I'm not'." The judge told Liverpool Crown Court that it was impossible to know to what extent Miss B has been traumatised by her ordeal. Describing them as "horrendous offences", he sentenced Oyston to three years on the indecent assault and six on the rape, the sentences to run concurrently.

The judge said that but for the fact he was 62, of previous good character and that the offences took place four years ago, he would have gone down for nine years. The verdict delivered after a marathon legal process and a jury deliberation lasting over eight hours, makes Oyston, who is worth an estimated pounds 40m, the richest man to go to prison in Britain for sex offences.

He was acquitted of raping a woman known as "Miss A", at his country mansion. But the jury found he indecently assaulted Miss B, a model who is now 20, by forcing her to have oral sex in a car and then raping her at his home, Claughton Hall, near Lancaster. Lawyers for Oyston, led by Anthony Scrivener QC, said they were considering an appeal.

Proceedings against Oyston began in January last year when he was charged with offences involving six women. Unknown to the jury, a Manchester magistrate ruled last year that he had no case to answer on charges of raping one woman and indecently assaulting two others.

Earlier this year, Oyston was tried at Manchester Crown Court on two counts of rape and one of indecent assault. Separate juries were sworn in for each rape charge and the judge ruled the trial could not be reported until all the sex charges against him had been decided.

On one rape, of a woman in London's Hilton Hotel in Park Lane, he was acquitted. On another, at his home, the jury could not agree and a retrial was ordered. That retrial, of Miss A, was heard along with the case of Miss B. On one charge of indecently assaulting Miss A he was acquitted in Manchester.

For the last few weeks, jurors in Liverpool have listened to a lurid saga of sex in cars, in London, and at his home, involving women from a model agency in Manchester.

At one point during the trial, when Miss B recounted how, aged 16, she was subjected to a sex attack by Oyston in the back of a Toyota Supra car and was then forced into further sex at his home, three members of the jury were reduced to tears.

Mr Scrivener argued that Oyston deserved some clemency because the offences occurred a long time ago, his age and the facts showed that little force was used, but his plea cut no ice with the judge.

As Oyston was being led from the dock, he mouthed "I love you" to his daughter Heidi, who was in the public gallery. She responded by mouthing to her father: "I love you too."

Detective Sergeant Harry Harrison, of the Greater Manchester police investigation team, said of the young model: "The last few years have been a very difficult time for the young lady and her family.

"She has shown tremendous courage in coming to court and giving her evidence, which at time included details of an intimate and traumatic nature.

"I hope that she can take some consolation from the fact that today's result can be seen as a victory for the average person by showing that no matter who an offender is, action can and will be taken when a person's privacy is violated".

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