Prolific sex offender jailed
Photographer convicted of rape and voyeurism
A photographer who set up a fake modelling website which he used to lure women in before persuading them to engage in sexual activity with him has today, Friday 7 February, been sentenced to 21 years in prison.
Paul Brown, also known as Paul D Smart, aged 41 of Richards Close, Okehampton, was found guilty at Exeter Crown Court of 15 counts of rape, and 6 counts of voyeurism.
In an investigation named ‘Operation Happen’, police worked tirelessly to bring one the most prolific sex offenders in the history of Devon and Cornwall Police to justice.
The offences, which took place between 2014 and 2018, would often result in sexual activity between himself and the women. He had previously pleaded guilty to one offence of voyeurism but had denied 28 other charges put to him.
In a trial which lasted 6 Weeks, the jury heard how Brown used the fake modelling website to honey trap women whom he then referred back to himself as potential models to undertake pornographic casting shoots, which would often include himself as a participant.
He would require them to sign a non-disclosure agreement and kept records of his sexual activity with many of them in a little black book [pictured] and a photo album.
Brown promised the women that the footage he took would be sent to the modelling agency so that they might then consider them for paid work. However, this was not the case and the sexual acts were solely for his own sexual gratification.
He was initially arrested in October 2017 following a complaint. After extensive examination of documentation and digital media, more women were identified resulting in Brown being charged with several counts of rape, sexual assault and voyeurism in January 2019.
The court heard how Brown had rented business premises at a unit in Okehampton where he worked on the side as a photographer, although it is not believed he had any formal training or qualifications in this area and his main line of work was in IT. All offences related to Brown’s work as a photographer with most offences having taken place at his studio.
Featuring heavily in this case was Brown’s business called Model South West, which was set-up as an agency that promoted models across a range of genres; from clothed and lingerie shots to adult and pornographic shots.
The vast majority of the victim’s in the case described applying to Model South West and being referred to Brown for a photoshoot. However, the women never went on to receive any work or money for the shoots.
Evidence showed that the agency Brown had set-up was actually fictitious and that any person named by Brown as being involved with that business did not exist.
DI Naidoo, the Senior Investigating Officer said: “Paul Brown was one of the most prolific sex offenders in the history of Devon and Cornwall Police.
“We welcome the sentence today. My team worked tirelessly to gather evidence with over 85 digital exhibits seized during the investigation. Paperwork found during searches of his home and business addresses also allowed us to contact further victims.
“This was a particularly complex rape investigation involving 16 victims taking over two years to complete. This all started with a single report.
“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.”
“If it were not for the courage of the victims in coming forward and the hard work of the police officers and staff involved, this case could not have happened and this offender would not have faced justice.”
DS 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.
“As can be seen with this case, offences do not necessarily follow the stereotypes often seen in the media. It is important that the public know that the police will fully investigate any such allegation and they should feel confident to come forward.”
DC Northcott, the Officer in Charge of this investigation, said: “I would personally like to thank the victims in this investigation for their courage and bravery in speaking to us and their patience and support for what has been a lengthy investigation.
“Lastly, it is important to highlight that these victims all have automatic anonymity for life.”
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