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Trial of ex-Shinzo boss accused of rape and attacks continues

Trial of ex-Shinzo boss accused of rape and attacks continues

Monday 12 February 2024

Trial of ex-Shinzo boss accused of rape and attacks continues

Monday 12 February 2024


The trial of a former steak and sushi restaurant boss, who is accused of attacking a woman and raping and assaulting another, enters its second week today.

Gavin Neil Roberts (44), founder of now-closed St Aubin eatery Shinzo, denies two counts of common assault against one woman, and grave and criminal assault, rape and two counts of sexual penetration without consent against another.

He has admitted two charges of grave and criminal assault against the second woman.

The jury trial, which began in the Royal Court last week, is expected to last until Tuesday.

The court heard at the opening of the trial last week that the two alleged victims’ reports to the police were made independently of one another.

Outlining the case, Crown Advocate Matthew Maletroit, prosecuting, said that Mr Roberts would often lash out while drunk.

“Grabbing women round the neck is something of a habit for the defendant,” Advocate Maletroit told jurors.

He added that the sexual offences were “depraved acts, which involved the defendant taking advantage of [the alleged victim] when she was at her most vulnerable”.

“These offences were committed in circumstances of serious violence, against a woman who was in no position to defend herself,” the advocate said.

Mr Roberts has been the owner of restaurants Shinzo and the Windmill, and Crown Advocate Maletroit described how the pressures of running a restaurant led him to drink too much.

Royal Court

Pictured: The case is being heard in the Royal Court.

On multiple occasions, it is alleged that Mr Roberts assaulted the first alleged victim in the case by grabbing her by the neck, but not strangling her, giving rise to two charges of common assault.

Describing one of the alleged offences against the second victim, Crown Advocate Maletroit said CCTV showed the defendant and the alleged victim outside a nightclub, taking shelter from the rain.

“He grabbed her by the neck and pinned her against the door,” he said. “He also struck her several times to the head, while continuing to be verbally abusive."

“It is the prosecution's case that the defendant saw this as an opportunity to take full advantage of her and use her for his own sexual gratification however he pleased,” the Crown Advocate added.

Giving evidence about that alleged attack in court last week, the woman said: “He was obviously shouting at me... he had launched himself at me and pinned me against the window,” she said.

She claimed that Mr Roberts had put both his hands around her neck and that she had struggled to breathe during an attack which lasted between 15 and 20 minutes.

She said he punched her in the head and the face, ripping out her earring.

On the night when Mr Roberts allegedly raped her, the woman described how she had felt disoriented, despite only having had two drinks.

The defendant had had more drinks than her, she told the court. She described how Mr Roberts had become angry.

“He was going to hurt me,” the woman said. “Just the look I saw. I knew what was going to come next.”

In messages sent to a work colleague that night, she said she thought she was going to die, and she described trying to avoid the defendant, adding: “I wanted to just disappear.”

When she joined him at a hotel, the alleged victim claimed Mr Roberts had picked her up at the reception and forced her into a lift and into a room. He attacked her, she said, and raped her.

She described feeling “horrendous”, crying and saying “stop” throughout the attack. Staff visited the room after a noise complaint, but she said she was hidden out of sight at that time. She claimed that the attack started in the middle of the night and lasted until she saw sunlight.

The defence's case is that the attack did not happen, and that Mr Roberts was actually helping the victim. 

After that night, the woman sent pictures of bruising to her chin, face and body to her friends, the court heard. She said that Mr Roberts had tried to convince her that her bruises had come from falling into the lift and that someone else had raped her.

Crown Advocate Matthew Maletroit, prosecuting, described the two attacks to which Mr Roberts had pleaded guilty.

The jury were shown video footage from those attacks. 

She said she took the recording because she thought “that was going to be it and I was going to be dead”, adding: “I just wanted people to know that I tried to fight.”

Advocate David Steenson, defending, questioned the timeline of events presented by the alleged victim.

He asked her about texts she had written in “gobbledygook”.

She explained: “I was pretending to be drunk to Gavin.”

RoyalCourt.jpg

Pictured: The defence's case was that Mr Roberts had tried to help – not harm – the woman.

Advocate Steenson put to the alleged victim that the alleged attack in town did not happen, pointing out that it was not visible on the CCTV footage shown in court.

The defence advocate said: “I suggest to you that that is a lie.”

She responded: “What? That did happen."

The defence advocate said to the alleged victim that she and Mr Roberts had got into a verbal argument in the hotel, but that there was no rape.

She denied this, and said during cross-examination that she thought "he was not going to hurt me if I acted more drunk than I was".

The advocate also questioned the woman about texts that she had sent to friends after the alleged rape, asking her why she had not told a close friend what had happened.

“I was still in a very dangerous position,” she said.

The defence advocate quizzed the woman and her friend about whether they had considered compensation, to which her friend said she had mentioned it when encouraging the alleged victim to contact the police.

The trial – over which the Bailiff, Sir Timothy Le Cocq, is presiding – continues this morning.

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