'Callous sexual predator' who raped five women he met on dating app jailed for life

A man who raped five women he met on a dating app has been jailed for life.

Tom Rodwell, 31, of Acklam, Middlesbrough, caused his victims sexual and physical harm, manipulated them and made them feel worthless.

Passing sentence at Teesside Crown Court, Judge Paul Watson QC said he was "addicted to a sense of power" he had over the women, whose lives he had "ruined".

Addressing Rodwell, Watson said, "You are a callous, unfeeling sexual predator whose only concern is for your own gratification."

In a series of statements, victims told the court how Rodwell shattered their confidence and forced them into sexual acts.

The 31-year old trainee paramedic previously worked for HMRC, the Royal Navy in Scotland and at an NHS call centre.

He admitted 11 rape offences against his five victims, over a three year period, as well as attempted rape and sexual assault.

During the hearing, it emerged that the defendant, who has no previous convictions, faced similar charges in Scotland in 2018 but was acquitted.

Rodwell used the dating app Tinder to make contact with the women, some of whom were students.

Richard Bennett, prosecuting, told the court: "The defendant, using social media, would contact a number of single young women and once in contact with them, he would physically and sexually abuse them.

"In addition to the physical and sexual abuse, he would psychologically manipulate them and in some cases make them feel worthless."

Mr Bennett said Rodwell had told his first victim he was into "rough sex".

"It would become apparent that the defendant did not realise or seem to care that he needed consent."

Rodwell admitted raping his first victim at least four times.

The first time he met the second victim he told her he wanted to get her pregnant and threw her contraceptive pills in the bin, which she took to be a joke.

He raped her the second time they met, days later sending her a WhatsApp asking when he could "rape her again", Mr Bennett said.

"It would become apparent that the defendant did not realise or seem to care that he needed consent."

The third woman said she considered killing herself having been raped by Rodwell several times and said he had "gas-lighted" her and made her feel that she needed him.

The fourth woman said Rodwell raped her in a hotel, then repeatedly hit her, but he later claimed he could not remember what happened but said his "ex liked it", Mr Bennett said.

The final victim told said Rodwell had told her from the outset how he wanted to "own her" and "choke her", the court heard.

Andrew Turton, defending, said there was no clear explanation for Rodwell's offending, but drink was involved.

Mr Turton said: "He is unable to explain to me or to the court why he had these preoccupations and why there were deviant elements in terms of control and violence. It appears alcohol played a part."

Judge Watson jailed Rodwell for life with a minimum term of 12 years before he can be considered for parole.

Restraining orders were put in place to prevent him contacting any of the women.

After the sentencing, Detective Constable Rick Sainsbury paid tribute to the women who have now seen him jailed for life, branding Rodwell's offending 'despicable'.

"He is a dangerous individual and his selfish and depraved actions have caused lasting harm to his victims and their families."

North East support

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, there are a number of services in the region that offer help and advice.

Information and support services can also be found on the NHS website.