A ‘depraved’ predator spiked a girl’s drink on a night out, lured her back to his hotel room and sexually assaulted her - before stealing the contents of her bank account and selling her mobile phone.
Sean Howarth, 31, met the girl and her friends at a nightclub in the Gay Village and repeatedly complimented her despite her telling him she had a boyfriend.
Whilst on the dancefloor he offered one of her friends some cocaine, but she declined and he then offered to buy the group a drink, including the victim, Minshull Street Crown Court heard.
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After taking the drink, the girl had little recollection of what happened next.
Rachel Faux, prosecuting, said: “At 2am her friend noticed the victim behaving in a strange manner, she was hyper and dancing in an unusual fashion.
“The victim then had some sort of panic attack and went outside to vomit, which was unusual for her.
“The friend went back inside the club to retrieve their coats so they could go home and gave the victim her phone.”
Anyone who wishes to seek support but does not want to talk to police can contact St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre on 0161 276 6515 or visiting by visiting the website.
St Mary's provides forensic, counselling and aftercare services for people affected by rape and sexual assault.
The National Male Survivors Helpline, Safeline, can be contacted on 0808 800 5005 or through the website here.
Survivors Manchester supports boys and men who have been affected by rape and sexual assault.
The charity provides therapeutic support and Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVA). They offer assistance throughout the criminal justice system, from initial reports to court and beyond.
ISVAs work independently of the police, Crown Prosecution Service and court system.
Boys and Men in Greater Manchester affected by sexual abuse, regardless of when it happened, can access Survivors Manchester by calling 0161 236 2182 or emailing: [email protected]
A weekly drop in session takes place each Wednesday from 2pm until 5pm.
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Greater Manchester Rape Crisis works with women and girls affected by rape and sexual assault. They can be contacted on 0161 273 4591.
Victims of sexual crimes are entitled to lifelong anonimity.
As she went inside, Howarth headed outside directly for the woman.
By the time her friend went to meet her, both Howarth and the victim were gone.
Despite calling her she received no reply until the following morning when Howarth called her back on the victim’s phone stating that the victim was with him at his hotel in Rochdale and that she was safe, and sent her back home in a taxi.
When the girl arrived back she was ‘shaking and crying’ with no memory of why she ended up in a hotel room, why she was with Howarth, or why she woke up with her trousers half way down her legs.
She was also without her phone and bank cards which were kept in her phone case.
“Shortly after 7am she was aware that her jeans were below her knees, the defendant was sitting on the end of the bed in a t-shirt and boxer shorts and she felt tender as if she had some sort of sexual experience,” Ms Faux continued.
“She asked him if they’d had sex and he said they hadn’t but she wanted to.”
After getting home she was examined but there was no evidence of penetration.
Following the loss of her bank card she went to the bank to freeze her account, only to find that only 5p was left.
A print of her recent transactions showed that a bank transfer of £651 to Howarth’s account had taken place at around 7am and had been authorised by her thumb print, whilst she was unconscious.
The following day, police attended at the Royal Toby Hotel, where Howarth was staying, and found class A drugs.
The day after he was released on bail and went to a Cash Generator where he sold the victim’s phone for £250. He later used this and the stolen money to buy drugs.
In a further interview he claimed she had pulled down her own trousers and he began to touch her until he realised she had fallen asleep.
CCTV later showed Howarth and the victim walking towards Bloom Street and getting into a taxi.
They stopped at a McDonalds where he bought some food but she could be seen ‘slumped’ against the rear window.
Pulling up at the hotel, Howarth helped her out of the car as she was unsteady on her feet.
He told the night porter that she was his sister, that she was drunk and asked if it was OK to bring her inside, the court heard.
They felt ‘intimidated’ by Howarth and allowed it, but later witnessed her trying to ‘break free’ from Howarth and heard her saying “no no”.
CCTV from inside the hotel showed Howarth carrying the girl over his shoulder to his room, before dropping her to the floor in order for him to retrieve his food he left at reception.
As part of the police investigation, Howarth’s phone was seized and examined; in the note section was the victim’s passwords and security information and a recording he had taken of himself sexually assaulting her.
Following tests, the presence of cocaine was discovered in the victim’s urine, though she had confirmed to officers she did not, and would not take cocaine.
In an emotional victim personal statement, the woman said her whole life had changed and she was no longer the ‘bubbly, sociable’ person she once was.
She said she no longer goes out socialising with friends for a drink, she has panic attacks when in crowded places and has completely changed jobs.
She said she has lost friends as a result, lost her confidence and initially felt like she was to blame for what happened to her.
“He left me with so many unanswered questions: Why did he pick on me? How did he think doing something like that was OK?” she said.
“It’s clear from his actions that his only priority was himself.”
Howarth was said to have two previous convictions for breaching non molestation orders against a former partner.
Mitigating, Keith Harrison said: “In his basis of plea, he states he did not seek to stalk anybody. This offence was not planned in the sense of prior to arriving and seeing the complainant.
“These offences are totally disrespectful and serious.
“He behaved in a totally unacceptable manner.
“There are very many good elements to this man - he fell from grace.”
Sentencing, Judge John Potter told him: “This offending amounted to a series of planned quite deliberate events leading to the depraved act of sexual assault which you filmed on your mobile phone.
“You then stole from your victim’s phone with all the money she had and you then took her mobile phone for yourself.
“The selection of your victim by you and thereafter objectifying her by dragging her into the hotel room to sexually abuse her and then stealing from her is clear evidence, in my judgement, of predatory sexual offending.
“You have, in many respects, destroyed her hopes and expectations she was entitled to have in her young life.”
Howarth, of Newsome Road, Huddersfield, was jailed for seven years and two months, made subject of the Sex Offender’s Register for life and also made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order indefinitely.
He previously pleaded guilty to administering a substance with intent to commit a sexual offence, sexual assault, offering to supply a class A drug, theft and fraud.
Detective Constable Russell Clarke, of Rochdale CID, said: "The circumstances of this case are truly shocking and involved the premeditated violation of a young woman.
"Howarth gave her no consideration as he exploited her in order to satisfy his own sexual and financial greed."
He added: "Throughout the investigation, Howarth failed to take full responsibility for his predatory behaviour.
"He changed his story on a number of occasions, spinning a web of lies as he persisted in trying to distance himself from what he had done."
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