A multi-millionaire tech entrepreneur has been jailed for 15 years for two counts of rape and one count of sexual assault.
Lawrence Jones, 55, was convicted in January of sexually assaulting a female employee on a business trip in 2013.
Jurors in a second trial last month found him guilty of drugging and raping two women when he worked as a hotel bar pianist decades ago.
Jones, of Hale Barns, Greater Manchester, founded web hosting provider UKFast in September 1999 with his wife Gail from a spare bedroom.
The company deals with more than 5,000 clients including the NHS, the Ministry of Defense and the Cabinet Office.
UKFast employs around 500 staff, including many young people, and its success led to Jones becoming an MBE for services to the digital economy in 2015.
Sentencing him at Manchester Crown Court on Friday, Judge Sarah Johnson told Jones: “The three offenses highlight that you thought you could behave with impunity.
“They are characterized by authority, dominance and a complete lack of respect for the rights and freedoms of these three women and, in my view, an element of appalling premeditation.”
Jones received a 14-year sentence for one rape, a concurrent prison sentence of seven years for the other and a consecutive 12-month custodial sentence for the sexual assault.
In January 2019 a former UKFast employee phoned the police to make several allegations against Jones, including that he had pressured her into having sex with him in 2010.
A second woman then came forward to say that Jones sexually assaulted her in a hotel while on a 2013 UKFast business trip.
Prosecutor Alois Marshall Casey told jurors that he later left the company with a £13,000 settlement, which required him to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement).
Jones, of Brooks Drive, was cleared of sexual charges in relation to the first complainant – one count of rape and three counts of sexual assault.
Judge Johnson said that he had enjoyed “remarkable success in business… with all the wealth and privileges that come with it”, but that he had created a workplace environment that was “tainted by his attitude towards women”. .
Jones made inappropriate and sexual comments which he passed off as “jokes”, and the women suffered unwanted attention, the judge said.
He said the defendant’s behavior towards a young employee whom he sexually assaulted at a hotel had “exposed a terrible side”.
The judge told him: “I am satisfied that you had in mind from the outset a sexual encounter.
“She was shocked, scared and confused. Then he was humiliated by you and accused of being unprofessional – a complete reversal of the true story.
In 2021 and 2022 two women, who did not know each other, came forward to police and said they were raped in Jones’ then-flat in Salford in the early 1990s.
The first complainant said she was given something to snort which had an “immediate effect” on her, while the second said she became extremely affected after a glass of wine and a few puffs of what she believed to be cannabis.
The court heard that both women were stunned and partially conscious but unable to respond.
The judge said that Jones, who was a “confident” man aged around 20 at the time, was a successful pianist in the Manchester hotel scene who was already showing entrepreneurial skills.
He added: “However you were already developing possessive and misogynistic attitudes towards women.”