January 2021

‘Callous’ Swindon rapist is jailed for seven years

A rapist was slammed as arrogant and “totally lacking in remorse” by the judge who sent him down for seven years.

Changes to the rules last year mean that former cider firm boss Nicholas Howard will serve two-thirds of his sentence behind bars before he is eligible for release. He must register as a sex offender for life.

In December, jurors took three hours to unanimously find the 38-year-old guilty of raping a woman in February 2019. He took the case to trial despite admitting the rape when he was interviewed by police later that year.

Jailing the dad-of-two at Swindon Crown Court yesterday, Judge Jason Taylor QC labelled Howard arrogant and callous.

He told Howard, who previously ran Swindon firm Circle Cider: “You did this for your own sexual gratification, betraying how little respect you actually had for her.

“You must have known it was against her will from the outset. She told you again and again she didn’t want it but you carried on anyway.

“The process had only taken a few minutes but during those few minutes you showed a callous disregard both for her and the long-term damage you would cause her.”

During the three-day trial, jurors heard that Howard had been in bed with his victim in early February 2019. He had raped her despite her repeated requests for him to stop.

The woman was said to have confronted him about the rape. She said he told her he would hand himself into the police station if it would make her feel better.

Howard was said to have later confessed to a friend that he had raped the woman. The friend said the man had appeared cold and passive as he made the admission, possibly telling him: “If I hang for it, I hang for it.” Under cross-examination the friend said the allegations didn’t sit easily with the character of the person he knew.

His victim did not go to police at first. It was only after attending the sexual assault referral centre that she spoke to detectives about the ordeal.

Her attacker was interviewed in early March, voluntarily attending Gablecross police station and answering officers’ questions without a lawyer present. He appeared to admit to raping the woman.

He told detectives: “We started having sex. I asked her to look at me. She said she didn’t want to, I don’t like it, at which point I didn’t stop.”

That constituted rape, he admitted.

By the autumn, when he was re-interviewed, he gave a different account. He said he’d been looking at the definition of rape on the Crown Prosecution Service’s website and no longer believed that he had raped the woman.

That claim was labelled nonsense by prosecutor David Scutt. In his closing speech to the jury, Mr Scutt accused Howard of arrogance, suggesting the man had not believed his victim would take the matter through to trial.

The judge called Howard arrogant and totally lacking in remorse.

Howard was jailed for seven years. He will have to register as a sex offender indefinitely.