Two men who targeted vulnerable teenagers over a period of two decades, raping and sexually assaulting them, and making them work as prostitutes, are facing substantial prison sentences.
A jury at Warwick Crown Court had heard that between them, Peter Jones and Raymond Dickens committed offences against six girls from the mid-90s right up until last year.
Jones (55) of Wheelwright Lane, Coventry, had denied raping three of the girls, while Dickens (53) of Langdale Close, Rugby, denied two charges of raping another of them.
But after a total of just over 24 hours of deliberations over the course of five days, the jury found the two men guilty of the rape charges they each faced by unanimous verdicts.
Jones, who had previously lived in Rugby, was also convicted of kidnapping one of his victims before taking her back to his flat and raping her, but was cleared of having an imitation firearm at the time.
He was also found guilty of two charges of falsely imprisoning another of the girls he raped, and of administering the date-rape drug GHB to her to obtain intercourse, with Dickens being convicted of indecently assaulting the same girl.
The jury also convicted Dickens of three charges of indecently assaulting the girl he raped, falsely imprisoning her and procuring her to become a prostitute.
Jones was found guilty of causing or inciting the fifth of their victims to work as a prostitute, and of assaulting the sixth girl causing her actual bodily harm.
But the jury foreman indicated they could not reach unanimous verdicts on charges in relation to Jones that he had sexually assaulted that girl and had incited her to work as a prostitute.
In the dock with the two men was Helen Thompson (43) of Morris Close, Rugby, who has denied taking part with Jones in the kidnapping offence – on which the jury was also unable to reach a unanimous verdict.
So in relation to that and the two outstanding charges against Jones, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told them: “I can now accept a verdict on which at least ten of you are agreed.”
That means that, as they continue their deliberations, the jury, which now consists of just 11 members after one of them was discharged, can bring in verdicts of 10-1.
Meanwhile, Judge de Bertodano remanded Jones and Dickens in custody to be sentenced at a later date.
During the trial prosecutor Michael Shaw told the jury: “For the last 20 years or so Jones, assisted by Dickens, has been targeting vulnerable girls of 17, 18, often with emotional problems and from broken homes and in care.
“They befriended them by buying electricity for their flats, getting them phone credits, and so on.
“The name of the game was to get them on the game, as it were.
“To control them, they used intimidation, kidnapping, getting them onto drugs or raping them. They would repeatedly rape the girls, not just for sexual reasons, but to retain control of them.
“They got away with it, on the whole, for about 20 years.”
Mr Shaw said: “At first just two girls came forward, but it got in the press, and more came forward and told a striking pattern of what had happened in Rugby over the past 20 years.”
Giving evidence, both Jones and Dickens claimed sexual activity with the girls had always been consensual.
The jury was continuing to consider the remaining charges.
Following the verdict, Detective Inspector Paul Thompson of Warwickshire Police said: “I would like to pay tribute to the victims in this case; their bravery and courage in giving evidence in such difficult circumstances has ensured the conviction of two extremely dangerous men.
“Over a number of years, Jones and Dickens have taken advantage of vulnerable young women for their own sexual gratification and financial gain. Jones’ offending continued up until his arrest last year.
“They preyed on vulnerable women. To start with they flattered them and brought them gifts but this attention soon turned to sexual and physical violence, manipulation and intimidation. All this was intended as a way to control them and force them into prostitution. It is a familiar pattern in these types of investigations.
“I hope that the bravery of the women in this case and the conviction of these dangerous sexual predators will give confidence to other victims of sexual offences to come forward. We will investigate and do everything we can to support vulnerable victims and bring offenders to justice.
“Jones’ and Dickens’ treatment of their victims was typical of the types of people who groom and exploit women and I would urge people to look out for the signs. If you are concerned that anyone is being exploited and abused please contact police on 101.
“I would also like to thank our partner agencies for their assistance throughout this investigation, their support has been invaluable. Partnership working has been key to this investigation.”
If you have been a victim of a sexual offence or know someone who has been a victim, help and advice is available. If you or someone else is in immediate danger call 999, alternatively you can make a report by calling 101 or going to your nearest police station.
If you do not feel comfortable speaking to officers, you can contact a referral centre which specialises in helping victims of rape and sexual assault - including providing medical care and counselling.
In Warwickshire you can contact the Blue Sky Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). For more information go to www.blueskycentre.org.uk, call 02476 865 505 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.