UKFast founder sentenced to 15 years in prison for sex crimes

Lawrence Jones will be sentenced at Manchester Crown Court after being convicted of rape. Image credit: John B Hewitt / Shutterstock.com

The founder and former CEO of Manchester-based web hosting provider UKFast has been jailed for 15 years for committing two rapes and a sexual assault.

Lawrence Jones was convicted in January this year of sexually assaulting a female employee on a business trip in 2013.

He was found guilty of drugging and raping two women in Manchester in the 1990s during a second trial last month.

Jones was given a 14-year sentence for one of the rapes and a seven-year concurrent jail term for the second at Manchester Crown Court on Friday. He was given a 12-month custodial sentence for the sexual assault.

Judge Sarah Johnston told Jones during sentencing on Friday: “The three offences highlight that you thought you could behave with impunity.

“They are characterised by entitlement, dominance and a total lack of regard for the rights and freedoms of these three women and, in my view, an element of sinister premeditation.”

Jones has already spent 10 months in custody for the sexual assault conviction, which had been under reporting restrictions so as not to prejudice his second trial.

The multi-millionaire tech entrepreneur set up UKFast with his wife in 1999. Jones went on to become a prominent figure in Manchester’s tech scene. As his company grew to around 500 staff, securing contracts with the NHS and Ministry of Defence, his personal fortune grew to an estimated £700m. He was awarded an MBE in 2015 and has donated to the Conservative Party.

In November 2019 the Financial Times published an investigation, speaking to over 30 sources, that exposed Jones’ predatory behaviour.

Jones denied the allegations but left the business in 2020, with his wife taking the position of chief executive.

Following media exposure, several women made official complaints to Greater Manchester Police and Jones was charged in early January 2021 with one count of rape and four counts of sexual assault. He was charged with the second count of rape after a woman reported the crime to police in 2022.