A predator has been jailed for more than seven years after admitting to doping a woman’s drink with cocaine, sexually assaulting her and draining her bank account.
Sean Howarth, 31, was sentenced to seven years and two months in prison at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester on Friday after he attacked, sexually assaulted and then raided his victim’s bank account.
Her sentencing comes amid renewed calls for women’s safety as activists this week revealed a boycott of nightclubs across the country amid an “epidemic” of rising incidents.
Howarth met his 19-year-old victim while out with friends at a Manchester city center nightclub in February 2019 and spiked his drink with cocaine.
When she fell ill, he lured her to the Royal Toby Hotel in Rochdale, telling the night porters that the woman was his sister who needed sleep after drinking too much alcohol.
Howarth carried his unconscious victim down the hallway, which was caught on CCTV, and into his bedroom. Once inside, he filmed himself pulling down his clothes and sexually assaulting her.
He then used his fingerprint to access his phone and transfer money from his bank to his, as well as to photograph all of his personal details.
Sean Howarth, 31, was sentenced to seven years and two months in prison at Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, after doping, sexually assaulting and then raiding his victim’s bank account.
When his victim fell ill, he lured her to the Royal Toby Hotel in Rochdale, telling the night porters that the woman was his sister who needed sleep after drinking too much alcohol.
Talk to Frank for tips on spikes
How can you stay safe?
Talk to Frank revealed a number of ways people can stay safe from spikes in bars and clubs, starting with planning for the night ahead.
He advises people to make sure they visit an approved place with friends and to stay aware of their surroundings.
People are also urged to be careful who they leave a venue with and to make sure their mobile phone has enough charge.
How to avoid spikes?
Advice includes a person buying their own drink and watching as it is poured, not accepting drinks from strangers, and never leaving their glass unattended.
People should also avoid drinking or tasting another person’s drink and throw the drink away if it tastes strange.
What should you do if you are doped?
Talk to Frank’s website: “If you start to feel strange, sick, or drunk when you know you can’t be drunk, ask a trusted friend or venue management for help.
“If you think you have been doped, ask a close friend to get you out of the place as soon as possible and take you home or to the hospital (if you are seriously unwell). Or call a friend, relative or partner and ask them to pick you up.
“If you feel unsafe, vulnerable or threatened, you can ask for help by approaching site staff and asking them ‘Angela’. This code phrase tells staff that you need help and a trained staff member will support and assist you.
“Once you are safely home, have someone stay with you until the effects of the drug wear off, which can take several hours.”
Detective Constable Russell Clarke 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 to satisfy his own sexual and financial greed.
“He went out that night and at some point decided he was going to drug, lure and sexually abuse this young woman who was just enjoying a night out with friends.
“If that wasn’t enough, he then exploited her by stealing her money, phone and personal information.
“The impact this has had on her is immeasurable and my thoughts are with her as she continues to come to terms with what has happened. She showed considerable courage in the face of everyone’s worst nightmare.
This week a series of young women have come forward to reveal their experiences of being doped in nightclubs across Britain, as figures show almost a fifth of revelers said they had tampered with their drinks .
Police forces across the country said there had been an increase in reports of alcohol and doping over the past two months.
The Sexual Offenses Act 2003 makes it an offense to administer a substance to a person with the intention of overpowering them in order to enable sexual activity with them.
The offense carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years, meaning slipping alcohol or drugs into someone’s drink is against the law, even if the drink is not consumed or the person is not injured.
It would be the same for the needle stick which would also be a physical attack.
Nationwide protests are expected to take place throughout the week, with more than 30 universities taking part in the boycott of nightclubs as part of the “Girls’ Big Night In”.
And a petition calling on bouncers to search more “thoroughly” for bettors when they arrive has been signed by more than 130,000 people demanding an end to the doping “epidemic”.
DC Clarke said Howarth failed to take responsibility for his “predatory behavior” and changed his story several times before pleading guilty on the day his trial was due to begin.
After initially denying the charges, Howarth later admitted to administering a substance with intent to commit a sexual offence, sexual assault, offering to supply a Class A drug, robbery, and fraud.
Mr Clarke added: “Howarth will now have time to reflect on what he has done.
“We have seen in recent weeks the impact of drinking on victims – we will thoroughly investigate all reports.
“I hope this sentencing serves as a warning to all others capable of such crimes that we will do everything in our power to bring them to justice.”
Howarth was also ordered to sign the Lifetime Sex Offender Register, police said.
Police forces across the UK are reporting an increase in incidents involving alcohol and injection
Hundreds of drinking and injecting incidents have been reported to police forces across the UK in the past two months.
The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) revealed that there were around 140 confirmed reports in September and October of drinking spikes and 24 reports of some form of injection.
He said the “worrying number” included both men and women – although the majority of cases were in young women.
The NPCC said several reports had been identified in England, Scotland and Wales over the past two days.
The organization’s drug chief, Deputy Chief Constable Jason Harwin, said: “There are both male and female victims, although the majority are young women.” Alleged offenses took place at licensed premises and private parties.
He added: “Obviously these reports are very concerning.” We work at the pace of forces, law enforcement agencies such as the NCA and other partners including the Home Office and academia to understand the extent of crime, establish any link the allegations and ultimately bring identified offenders to justice.
‘Ahead of the weekend and in the run up to the Halloween weekend, rest assured that the forces are working more closely than ever with pubs and clubs to help resolve the issue and encourage locals to increase searches at points entry to the sites.
“The police are also working with the sites to ensure that all staff are alert to the issue and to advise them of what to do if they see signs of a spike.
“We encourage anyone who thinks they have experienced or witnessed a spike in any form to contact their local police. All reports of doping will be investigated and taken seriously.
It comes as two men have been arrested on suspicion of conspiring to administer poison in a series of reported drinking incidents involving needles in Nottingham.
Nottinghamshire Police said the men, aged 18 and 19, were arrested after receiving information from a member of the public on Wednesday, following a general plea for help from a senior officer .
The force said the two were arrested “on suspicion of conspiracy to administer poison with intent to injure, annoy or assault”, and remain in custody.
The arrests are not linked to any specific allegation of needle doping or drink contamination.
Elsewhere, Lincolnshire Police said they arrested a 35-year-old man at 3am on Friday in connection with an attempted doping at a Lincoln nightclub.
The alleged offense “does not involve a needle”, the force said.
Welcoming the arrest, police and Lincolnshire Crime Commissioner Marc Jones said: ‘We cannot accept that people are not safe when they go out with friends for a drink.
“This arrest should send a huge signal to those would-be criminals who seek to prey on our community in this despicable way.”