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Operation Stovewood: Sexual assaulter used limousines to groom teenage victims

A man has been found guilty of using his limousine hire company to groom and sexually abuse teenage girls in Rotherham following an investigation by officers from the National Crime Agency’s Operation Stovewood.

David Saynor, 76, who was living in Rotherham at the time, committed a series of offences against girls in the late 2000s, taking his victims for rides in his cars, plying them with alcohol, persuading them to undress or dance, and in some cases raping or sexually assaulting them.

His victims were aged between 12 and 18 at the time of the offences, sometimes picked up from schools or care homes in his stretched Hummer, taken to and from teenage discos in Rotherham, or simply for drives around the area.

The girls were given money for cigarettes, food, and sometimes drugs. Saynor actively encouraged them to call him if they needed someone to pick them up, and he often told them to bring friends.

On one occasion, he took one of his victims, who was only 12 or 13 at the time, and took her to the yard where he kept his limousines. He then raped her in an office building.

One victim was repeatedly molested over a two-year period, when she was 14 and 15. She said she was picked up in her school uniform with a group of other girls and given alcohol, cigarettes and money. Once, when she was alone, he raped her in the backseat of a limousine. He later threatened to hurt her family if she told anyone.

Another victim, who was 16 and in care at the time, was initially given a job by Saynor handing out leaflets for his company. On one occasion she was driven to an unfamiliar part of Sheffield and told to perform a sex act on him or be left there, miles from home with no way back.

Saynora was arrested by the NCA in 2020 after multiple victims identified him.

Following a five-week trial at Sheffield Crown Court, he was found guilty of 15 charges relating to eight victims. He will be sentenced on August 15.

NCA Senior Detective Officer Stuart Cobb said: “Saynor used his limousine hire business as a front to groom teenage girls, gain their trust and then abuse them.

“He was a manipulative predator who deliberately sought out vulnerable or troubled individuals, giving them gifts of money or alcohol to gain their trust.

“But it often escalated into intimidation and threats when the girls resisted his will.

“The victims in this case have shown great courage to come forward and tell their stories, and I pay tribute to them for that. I hope today’s guilty verdicts show our determination to get justice for them, even after all these years.”

David Saynor’s conviction means 34 people have now been convicted of offences as a result of an investigation led by the NCA’s Operation Stovewood, which is looking into allegations of abuse in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.

It remains the largest investigation of its kind in the UK, with more than 1,150 potential victims identified. There are 50 other ongoing investigations under Stovewood.

Stuart Cobb, from the NCA, added: “I would like to acknowledge the support provided by partners including the CPS, South Yorkshire Police, RMBC, NHS Trauma Resilience and the Independent Sexual Violence Advisory Network throughout this investigation.

“Their ongoing support for the victims in this case has been crucial in ensuring that everyone involved has been able to continue through the legal process, and that support will continue following this verdict.”

Sam Thompson, a CPS specialist prosecutor, said: “The way in which David Saynor groomed, threatened and coerced young girls in his community to satisfy his own depraved sexual desires was both cruel and manipulative.

“Child sexual abuse can cause lifelong physical and emotional trauma. We are grateful to the victims in this case who came forward to tell the story of what happened to them at the hands of Saynor. It is because of their evidence that we were able to build a strong case and help bring this sex offender to justice.

“I hope this conviction sends a clear message that the CPS, working with law enforcement, will continue to pursue justice and prosecute child sexual abusers wherever such abuse occurs.

“I would like to encourage all victims of sexual abuse or violence against children to report the crimes committed against them to the police, no matter how much time has passed.”

July 09, 2024