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Spiking photographer jailed for sexual assault

A man who ran a photography studio which targeted aspiring models has been jailed for sexually assaulting a former client.

Sritharan Sayanthan, 42, was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment at Hendon Crown Court on Friday, 21 July after being found guilty of two counts of rape of a woman 16 years or over and one count of attempted rape of a woman 16 years or over at the conclusion of a seven-day trial.

When he is released he will also have a Sexual Harm Prevention Order imposed on him.

Detective Constable Sophie Baker, from the Central North Command, said: “The victim survivor in this case was fantastic from start to finish. She was extremely nervous at the prospect of giving evidence but, with the support of an interpreter, she told the court in fine detail what happened. For victims, describing the incident in court can be daunting but she did amazingly and I am personally very proud of her bravery and thankful to her for coming forward.

“We also believe there could be other victims of Sayanthan and would encourage anyone who wants to speak to us to come forward. No piece of information is too small and you will be listened to and supported.”

The court heard how the victim survivor, a woman in her 30s, attended Sayanthan’s photography studio on Brompton Road in May 2022. Here she paid for photographs to be taken. The victim met with him again on 8 July 2022 for a drink; she believed this was part of the networking process associated with this agency. He had previously contacted her online to arrange this.

The victim met Sayanthan at a public house in Warren Street at 19:40hrs. He encouraged her to drink alcohol which made her intoxicated, very quickly. He then led the victim to his studio. Here she blacked out on the studio floor. When partially awake she was aware of Sayanthan sexually assaulting her. She was unable to respond verbally or physically.

She eventually woke to find him putting her clothes back on her. He walked her to the station.

The victim, a Chinese national, reported the offences to police on 31 July 2022. She did not tell the police earlier because she did not know how. or if, rape was investigated in the UK.

Detectives from Central North Command carried out an investigation. They discovered Transport for London CCTV footage of the victim arriving at Warren Street Station and then her back at the station nearly four hours later. Sayanthan is seen directing the victim to the tube station. The victim was noticeably unsteady on her feet. The victim provided a visually recorded Interview in August and once the suspect was identified he was arrested during a pre-planned warrant in September. Statements were gathered from studio staff and further research uncovered several other photography businesses owned by the suspect.

DC Baker added: “Anyone with information about Sayanthan should call police via 101 with reference 1852/31JUL22. I would urge anyone who has been a victim of rape or sexual assault to come forward and report what happened to police. We will support you and take you seriously.

“By working with our partners across the criminal justice system, we are determined to bring offenders to justice. We will prioritise action against sexual and violent, predatory offenders and we would ask any victim or witness to sexual assault, to please contact us. We have specially trained officers who will help and support you.”

Two historical allegations of sexual assault against clients by the same suspect in 2012 and 2015 were retrieved. These investigations were closed at the time due to evidential difficulties, however these cases were served as bad character evidence against the former photographer. Unfortunately vital CCTV was lost in these investigations as were forensic opportunities due to the delayed time of reporting. Whist delays in reporting sexual offences can be challenging, we have specially trained officers who will follow up all lines of inquiry, and seek to prosecute when the evidence will support it.

+ If you have been a victim of sexual assault or rape or you have information about an offender, contact police on 101 or 999 in an emergency – there are specially trained officers who will listen and investigate where needed.

(Source: Metropolitan Police)

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