Largest rape trial in UK history
January 7, 2020
Richard Littler QC from Exchange Chambers has acted as lead defence silk in the largest rape trial in UK history and, it is believed, the world. For that reason, the case has been reported internationally and is influencing Government policy on the classification of GHB.
Reynhard Sinaga (19/02/1983), of no fixed address, has been sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of 159 counts of sexual offences against 48 different men.
Sinaga was convicted of 136 counts of rape, 8 counts of attempted rape, 14 counts of sexual assault and 1 count of assault by penetration.
He will serve a minimum of 30 years before being considered for release.
Richard Littler QC, leading Jane Greenhalgh from Exchange Chambers, has had conduct of the case for 2 ½ years and conducted 4 consecutive secret trials. The Press Restriction was in place following a successful application by Richard to prevent the juries in trials 2,3 and 4 from learning about the previous convictions in the case.
During the course of each trial, the court heard how Sinaga would target men, mostly heterosexual men, who were alone and potentially vulnerable before approaching them in the street.
Sinaga would then strike up a conversation with his intended victim, before convincing them to come back to his home under false pretences. Once inside he would offer them a drink which, unbeknownst to the men, would contain a substance – believed to be GHB – that would render them unconscious.
With his victim unconscious, Sinaga would rape and sexually assault the men whilst filming his acts. The prosecution repeatedly informed the jury that the evidence against Sinaga was “the films, the films, the films” which fully recorded the entire sex acts and the victim asleep throughout.
Sinaga was completely unknown to police and his offending only came to light in June 2017, when one of his victims woke up during one of the attacks and fought him off. The victim was initially arrested on suspicion of assault before police discovered hundreds of sickening videos on Sinaga’s mobile phone.
When Greater Manchester police examined Sinaga’s digital devices, they discovered 3.29TB of extremely graphic material – equivalent to 250 DVDs or 300,000 photos – depicting sexual assaults lasting in one case for eight hours.
Detectives and both legal teams examined hours and hours of disturbing video footage taken by Sinaga, which also had to be played to jurors in all 4 trials.
Whenever victims regained consciousness, Sinaga could be seen pushing them back to the floor to continue the assault or snatching away his phone to avoid suspicion. Few had any idea they had been raped until police knocked on their doors several years later. He also kept ‘trophies’ of his crimes, such as watches and wallets as well as downloading social media pages from some of his victims. He could be seen looking at victim’s phones in order to learn more about them and invent a story that they had spoken the night before about common interests. Many victims remained Facebook friends with Sinaga after the event before police visited them and told them the truth.
Sinaga claimed his victims were enjoying acting out his sexual fantasy and it had been agreed beforehand between the parties that the victims wanted a gay experience and were agreeing to engage in fantasy sex where they would pretend to be asleep during intercourse and Sinaga would be dominant and be allowed to film it. The jury rejected this defence out of hand and unanimously rejected by the four trial juries.
The Prosecution in advance of the sentence hearing submitted an argument setting out the appropriateness of a Whole Life Sentence. The Manchester Evening News, the day before the sentence, released an article entitled “Locked up forever: The evil Manchester criminals who got whole life orders.”
Richard Littler QC, defending Sinaga, submitted that the legal authorities did not support the passing of a whole life sentence. A whole-life order is very rarely made, even when a mandatory life sentence is required. This was not a mandatory life sentence case. The Court of Appeal had never before imposed a whole life order attached to a discretionary life sentence. This was a discretionary life sentence case. To date, in non-homicide cases, whole life orders have not been passed.
Sentencing Sinaga, Judge Suzanne Goddard QC described him as a “dangerous, deeply disturbed and perverted individual with no sense of reality”, who should never be released from prison.
The judge said she had strongly considered ordering Sinaga to serve a whole life term, meaning he would never be released, which would have been the first such sentence imposed for a crime other than murder. However, she agreed with defence submissions and did not. Judge Goddard QC said it was a “borderline case.”
The Judge increased the minimum term from 20 years to 30 years adding 10 years for Trials 3 and 4, but added: “In my judgment you are a highly dangerous, cunning and deceitful individual who will never be safe to be released, but that is a matter for the Parole Board.” She found in Trials 3 and 4 seven victims suffered severe psychological trauma which permitted her to deviate from the totality principle but only slightly.
She added: “You are an evil serial sexual predator who has preyed upon young men who came into the city centre wanting nothing more than a good night-out with their friends.
“One of your victims described you as a monster. The scale and enormity of your offending confirms this as an accurate description.
“Rarely, if ever, have the courts seen such a campaign of rape as this, covering so many victims over a prolonged period.
“It is ironic that were it not for the films that you took of your evil crimes it seems that most of these offences would not have even been discovered, let alone prosecuted.
“Your actions show you as a dangerous individual with no sense of reality.
“In my judgment you are a highly dangerous, cunning and deceitful individual who will never be safe to be released. That is for the Parole Board.”
Judge Goddard QC also praised counsel for Prosecution and Defence for their conduct in the case.
Richard Littler QC and Jane Greenhalgh were instructed by Elizabeth Dyson at Keith Dyson Solicitors, whose representative Claire Langton, was also praised for the dedication she and her firm had given to this unique and difficult case.