Judge urges internet dating safety review after match.com rapist jailed for life
A judge has called for a review of internet dating safety measures after handing a life sentence to a "devious and manipulative" serial rapist who attacked seven women he met online.
Judge Gregory Dickinson QC ordered Jason Lawrance to serve at least 12 years and six months before the Parole Board can even consider his release.
The 50-year-old, from Liphook in Hampshire, was also made the subject of restraining orders banning him from making any future attempt at direct or indirect contact with his victims.
After jailing Lawrance, who showed no emotion in the dock, Judge Dickinson expressed concern that four of the victims had made complaints to dating site match.com before three other women were raped.
The trial at Derby Crown Court was told one of the victims had been interviewed by police in Lincolnshire and another had, through her friend, contacted Leicestershire Police.
Although he accepted that the vast majority of people using dating sites were simply looking for companionship, Judge Dickinson went on: "The seriousness of this case provides both the need and the opportunity to learn something and to take steps to increase protection for others in the future.
"It does seem to me that, in this age of easy access to data and records, there should be a system which allows one authority to be a central point of contact for any complaint of this nature.
"Most if not all of the victims had not tried to hide from their families and friends that they were on a dating site - they had told them that they were meeting the defendant.
"It does seem to me consideration should be given to a system of automatic referral to the police or some other central agency of any complaint that is made."
Judge Dickinson told the court - in which none of the victims was present - that no one person or organisation had been in a position to "join the dots" or have an overview of the complaints made to the website.
Lawrance's trial heard that the former company director texted one of his victims after attacking her, apologising for "hurting her" and saying: "When you were crying out for me to stop I couldn't, I'm so mad at myself xxx."
The jury of six women and six men heard that Lawrance raped another woman in the back of a van parked in a field in Northamptonshire, and a third was attacked at her home in Lincolnshire while her son was asleep in a nearby bedroom.
Sentencing Lawrance for the attacks between June 2011 and November 2014, Judge Dickinson said: "I am convinced that you are devious, manipulative and highly dangerous to women.
"In my judgment these offences taken together - so many victims, the trail of terror and agony for which you are responsible - mean that the imposition of a sentence of imprisonment for life is fully justified."
After stressing that the minimum term equated only to the earliest stage at which Lawrance could be considered for release, Judge Dickinson told the self-employed builder: "I am compelled to the dreadful conclusion that you enjoyed raping women.
"After these terrible crimes you acted as if nothing had happened.
"You have shown no remorse - zero appreciation of the seriousness of these offences - for the pain you have inflicted on these ladies, their families and their friends."
Lawrance, a former amateur boxer, was convicted of five counts of rape, one of sexual assault and an attempted rape.
In a statement issued after the hearing, match.com said: "Having worked with the police on this case for more than a year, we welcome the jury's verdict and today's sentence.
"We are very sorry for those affected, and appalled by these terrible acts. Sadly, there is a tiny minority of people who set out to harm others.
"While this is not confined to dating sites or even the internet, those who do so
should be convicted and sentenced, as has happened in this case.
"Our members' safety is our highest priority."
Match.com added that it was committed to working with the dating industry as a whole to raise standards and ensure the best possible protection and support for its users.