11:00, February 07 172 0 theguardian.com

2020-02-07 11:00:08
Man who set up fake modelling website jailed for rape

A photographer who set up a fake modelling website to lure women to his studio to sexually assault them has been jailed for 21 years, police said.

Paul Brown, also known as Paul D Smart, was convicted at Exeter crown court of 15 counts of rape relating to six women and six counts of voyeurism relating to five others.

Devon and Cornwall police described Brown, 41, of Okehampton, as one of the worst sex offenders in the force’s history.

Brown used the fake website to “honey-trap” women, who he then referred back to himself as potential models for pornographic casting shoots, often involving him as a participant, police said.

He required them to sign a non-disclosure agreement and kept records of his sexual activity in a black book and a photo album.

The women were promised that footage would be sent to the modelling agency to be considered but this was not the case, police said.

Officers initially arrested Brown in October 2017 following a complaint, and then identified further women, leading to him being charged with counts of rape, sexual assault and voyeurism in January 2019.

He was convicted and sentenced following a six-week trial at Exeter crown court.

Det Insp Praveen Naidoo said: “Paul Brown was one of the most prolific sex offenders in the history of Devon and Cornwall police.

“He raped and sexually assaulted women over a period of five years. He created a web of deceit to coerce women, many of whom were vulnerable, into allowing him to sexually assault and rape them.

“It wasn’t until one brave young woman came forward that police were able to unravel the web that he had created.”

Police said Brown rented a unit in Okehampton where he worked as a photographer, though it is not believed he had any formal training or qualifications and his main line of work was in IT.

He set up Model South West as an agency that promoted models across a range of genres, from clothing and lingerie to adult and pornographic shots.

The vast majority of victims applied to Model South West and were referred to Brown for a photoshoot.

DS Emma Lefort, the deputy senior investigating officer, said: “This was a particularly unusual case and one which helps to dispel some of the myths that surround the subject of rape and other sexual offences.”

Police thanked victims for their courage and bravery in speaking out.

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