Exmouth hairdresser jailed for rape

An Exmouth hairdresser found guilty of raping a drunken man in Topsham has been jailed for five years.

John Stewart, 44, was jailed at Exeter Crown Court on Thursday for his sex attack last year on an 18-year-old in a flat above the Lord Nelson pub in Topsham’s High Street.

Stewart denied raping the man and a second offence of causing him to engage in sexual activity without his consent at his trial before a jury in June.

Judge Victor Salomonsen ordered Stewart’s details to remain on a Sexual Offender Register and he was given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order, to both run indefinitely.

Stewart, of Fairview Avenue, Laira, Plymouth, will serve half his sentence in prison before being released on licence.

Judge Salomonsen said Stewart’s sentence could have been reduced had he admitted guilt and saved his victim giving evidence.

The judge said: “I have to have regard for totality. There was not once offence, but two offences. You could have assisted and you did not.

Most Read

“If you had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity your sentence would have been significantly reduced because your victim would have been saved the trauma of reliving the offence in the witness box.”

The judge said Stewart committed offences while the 18-year-old was drunk and ‘vulnerable’.

He said his victim would have suffered ‘shame, embarrassment and degradation’.

The offences were committed in May 2010 after a night out in Exmouth, when the victim and his friend spent the night in the flat of the then landlord of the Lord Nelson pub.

At the time of the offences, Stewart had been living with the landlord.

The group had gone drinking in Exmouth while Stewart stayed at home drinking wine and shots.

In the early hours of the morning the victim woke to find Stewart performing a sex act on him, before forcing him to reciprocate.

Judge Salomonsen said: “You maintained before the jury that your victim was a willing participant but the jury accepted the evidence he was not.

“He fled the public house. He was shaking, distressed.

“His friends called the police who were with him in a short time.”

In passing sentence Judge Salomonsen said he was treating Stewart as a man of previous good character.

Defence counsel Ali Rafati said Stewart, who had been granted bail, did not pose any threat or risk to the public.

He said letters and testimonials from friends sent to the court about Stewart’s character referred to ‘acts of kindness’.

“There was nothing in the evidence about his conduct before that day and nothing about his conduct on bail,” said Mr Rafati.

“He is thought of about as highly as could be.”