Judges overturn rape conviction

A PREACHER whose convictions for a week-long campaign of rape were quashed by appeal judges will now walk free from prison because no retrial has been sought.

Paul Denton, 47, formerly of Hood Road in Daventry was accused of a string of rapes of a woman.

In February last year, he was jailed for 12 years after he was convicted of four assaults, occasioning actual bodily harm and seven counts of rape, at Inner London Crown Court.

He appealed and saw the rape convictions overturned on Thursday last week. Mr Denton has walked free after no retrial of the allegations will be applied for.

The 32-year-old woman, who can not be named for legal reasons had spoken to prosecutors before making a decision.

Lord Justice Moses, who heard the appeal with Mr Justice Burnett and Judge Anthony Scott-Gall, said an omission in the trial judge’s summing up rendered the convictions “unsafe”.

At the appeal in December, Richard Hearnden, defending, had argued the trial judge should have given the jury a direction on the fact that he had no previous convictions for sexual offences.

“We take the view, reluctantly, that the verdicts of rape in this case were unsafe,” said Lord Justice Moses.

“We say we do so reluctantly because the conclusion we have reached does not reflect upon the credibility of the complainant from whom, of course, we have not heard. The failure of the judge and, for that matter, of counsel on both sides, to make good the omission was no fault of the complainant.”

Mr Denton, who changed his name to “Lord Denton” by deed poll, claimed he was sent by God to save the people of Daventry and described the allegations as “lies from the depths of hell.”

It was alleged that Mr Denton, who now lives in Wembley, beat the woman “as a punishment”.

The Appeal Court heard that, during his evidence, he admitted there had been some physical violence, but he denied raping her and the assaults that were alleged to have taken place.

His lawyers argued that he was unfairly prejudiced during his trial, because the judge failed to give the jury a direction about his lack of previous convictions.