Violent bully who molested ‘vulnerable’ woman is battered in prison

A violent bully who sexually molested a vulnerable woman was battered in prison.

John Lawrence, 36, has a shameful history of beating up women, dating back to his early 20s.

But until now his criminal record – featuring 22 convictions for 42 offences – didn't include any sexual offending.

Liverpool Crown Court heard he subjected a victim to a humiliating sex attack, the details of which are too graphic to publish.

He also sent the "vulnerable" victim threatening and abusive texts, before he later inflicted a serious physical assault on her, reports the Liverpool Echo.

Lawrence, who was initially also charged with rape, denied any sexual or physical assaults, and was set to stand trial.

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However, he later admitted sexual assault, putting a person in fear of violence and causing grievous bodily harm, after prosecutors dropped the rape charge and two further alleged assaults.

Lawrence, from St Helens, appeared on-screen via video link from HMP Liverpool, with a visible injury to his left eye.

The woman described how he had "broken her as a person".

She said the ordeal affected her mental health, but she couldn't see a counsellor because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Anya Horwood, prosecuting, said: "She feels her life is on hold until she receives the mental health assessment and counselling that she needs."

In a victim statement, the woman said: "I'm a complete mess, I can't sleep. I've needed sleeping tablets just to get through the night."

She told the court she was "replaying and replaying" the events in her mind, suffered flashbacks, and "cries on a daily basis".

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The woman said this "made her life a living hell", she was in "constant fear", and had turned to alcohol to cope.

The victim said she lost her "dignity", which was possibly the worst thing of all, adding: "He's taken everything away from me."

Lawrence's criminal record dates back to 2003 and includes violence against men and women.

Philip Astbury, defending, said: "I've discussed this with the defendant. Your honour will see by way of example the injury to his face and what he describes taking place in the prison and your honour can imagine, I'm sure, the additional effects of the type of offending that he has admitted. I've discussed it with him and he stands by his pleas."

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Judge Murray noted Lawrence "had a difficult time in prison" and was now on a wing for vulnerable prisoners.

But he said he was assessed as being a high risk of re-conviction and of causing harm, particularly to women.

Judge Murray said Lawrence was a "dangerous offender", who must sign on the Sex Offenders Register for life.

He jailed him for 18 months in total for inflicting grievous bodily harm and putting a person in fear of violence.

At the halfway stage, he will then start a sentence of five years and seven months for the sex attack – of which he will have to serve at least two thirds – with an extended four years on licence.

This means he will serve around four years and three months in total before he is considered eligible for parole and only be released before the end of his sentence if he is no longer considered to be a risk.

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