Barrister who raped woman he met on Tinder jailed for four years

Court finds Robin Jacobs guilty by majority verdict

Emily Pennink
Friday 16 September 2022 12:30 BST
<p>Jacobs was sentenced after retrial </p>

Jacobs was sentenced after retrial

A barrister who laughed after forcing himself on his Tinder date has been jailed for four years for rape.

Robin Jacobs, 39, reacted angrily and shouted from the dock “I didn’t do it” after he was found guilty following a retrial at the Old Bailey on Thursday.

The court heard how Jacobs told the woman to “hold steady” before unexpectedly initiating anal sex in September 2017.

The woman claimed she twice told Jacobs to stop and screamed “get out” before he moved away after 20 to 30 seconds.

Afterwards, Jacobs muttered to himself that he “shouldn’t laugh” before giving an involuntary chuckle, jurors heard.

Jacobs, from South Woodford, east London, disputed the woman’s account and denied he engaged in the sex act without having a reasonable belief that she consented to it.

A jury at the Old Bailey deliberated for four hours and 47 minutes to find him guilty of rape by a majority of 10 to two.

Jacobs, who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), appeared anxious and agitated in the dock before shouting: “I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it. I was telling you the truth. I could have lied but I told you the truth. Oh my God.”

After a short break, his barrister Stephen Rose said: “He is struggling and I have no doubt will struggle to understand, by the reasons of his disability, the outcome of this case but in all the circumstances we invite the court to impose the shortest sentence necessary.”

Jailing Jacobs for four years, Judge John Hillen KC said the defendant had taken “absolutely no steps” to ensure the woman had consented to anal sex before her embarked on the sexual act.

He told Jacobs: “That was not only a failure of courtesy, politeness and care. That failure was a criminal act.”

Judge Hillen noted Jacobs’ “exemplary character” and said he took no moral view of his lifestyle.

But he added: “Sexual activity in your case with many partners of both sexes risks the possibility that you might overstep the boundaries and that is what happened.

“Those boundaries as you now realise as an intelligent man are obvious, particularly in respect of penetration of the anus. That is an exceptionally intimate act, you recognised that in your evidence.

“You did not pause to check if (the woman) was one such person who might think it unacceptable.”

Reading a victim impact statement, prosecutor Jollyon Robertson told of the woman’s feelings of “humiliation” and how she acted on “autopilot” after the rape.

Mr Robertson said: “She was off work for two months. She felt she had no control over her life, her trust in people had been affected.”

An initial trial in August ended in a jury being discharged after failing to reach a verdict and the media was barred from reporting the retrial until its conclusion.

Previously, the court heard how the couple met through the Tinder dating app in the summer of 2017.

They went for drinks in South Woodford before having sex at Jacobs’ house, jurors heard.

They went on to exchange “sexually suggestive” messages in which the woman said she would like to try being tied up and they discussed the fantasy of a threesome, jurors heard.

But on their second meeting, they only had a cup of tea after Jacobs helped her to move some boxes into her car.

On 17 September 2017, they had pizza and wine for lunch and then went back to Jacobs’ house, where they initially had consensual vaginal sex.

In a videoed interview played in court, the woman recounted to police her version of what happened next. She said he told her to “wait a minute” before forcing himself on to her.

“I told him to stop twice and he did not. I screamed ‘get off’, then he stopped and he did move away,” she said.

“At that point I was just face down. I did not know what to do with myself, in quite a lot of pain. He told himself twice that it was not funny, he shouldn’t laugh. After the second time, he did laugh.”

She went to the bathroom and got dressed while Jacobs appeared “astonished” that she was upset and “bewildered”.

She said: “He asked me if I was going to report it to the police. He asked me if he would see me again, and then he also offered me paracetamol.” The woman said she had said “no” before leaving.

She added: “There was no discussion, absolutely no warning, there was no touching, foreplay, warning. There was nothing. It was literally he made a decision and that’s what he did.”

Asked how she felt about it, she said she had “flashbacks”, adding: “It did not feel real. It feels quite surreal.”

The woman was examined at a specialist sexual assault clinic and found to have a fresh laceration measuring 2.5cm by 2mm, jurors were told.

Experts agreed that such an injury was likely to have been inflicted with “at least moderate force”.

The woman reported the incident to police and Jacobs disputed her version of events when he was interviewed.

The court heard that he said he gave warning signs on what he was about to do, telling her to “hold steady”.

He disputed that he used a huge amount of force, as well as her claim it went on 20 to 30 seconds, saying it was more like two to three seconds.

Giving evidence, Jacobs was challenged over the alleged signs he gave the woman, with the prosecution asserting that saying “hold steady” was no warning at all.

Jacobs told jurors: “It would have been perfectly adequate when I had done it on previous occasions with other partners.”

Asked how often he had attempted anal sex with a woman without saying he was going to, Jacobs said: “I think it’s about seven that I can remember. At least four come to my mind.”

The defendant explained it was something that happened “sort of incrementally” during intimacy.

He said he could not recall how many women had declined the suggestion.

He emphatically denied he had used the woman’s body to “pleasure himself”, saying: “That’s not what I am about.”

Jacobs also denied the suggestion he failed to stop when asked repeatedly because he was enjoying it too much.

He told jurors: “She said ‘get out’ and that’s when all the problems started. There was no thrusting… it was over as soon as it had begun.”

Jacobs added: “Certainly I knew immediately there was a problem. It’s like I say, nothing like that had ever happened to me before during sex. It was a shock.”

He claimed the woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was “forward” and “bawdy from the get-go” and it was not just him initiating everything in the brief relationship.

The jury was told ASD can lead to some people misreading social signals but was not relevant in Jacobs’ understanding of consent.

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