A ghosthunter and film-maker has been jailed for four and a half years for raping an aspiring actress he met through his love of film.
Gaz Coward, 29, is lead investigator for online TV show Paranormal Intent, and has investigated several Lancashire locations for spooks, including The Cedar Tavern in St John’s Square, Blackpool, and the Grapevine pub in Poulton.
You persisted in having intercourse, despite her protestations
But last month the film-maker, who has 26 director credits to his name, was convicted of rape following a trial at Preston Crown Court.
Shortly before the trial he told his internet followers: “I have got a lot of stuff taking place next week which means I won’t be able to upload a video.” Coward, of Birchwood Drive, Hambleton, denied rape at Preston Crown Court but was convicted of both counts following a trial in September.
The court heard he first attacked the woman at the home she shared with her children, after she had made it clear she did not want to have sex.
Judge Simon Newell, sentencing, said: “You persisted in having intercourse, despite her protestations.”
Following the attack, Coward denied the incident was rape and the pair remained in touch, but a few weeks later Coward attacked the woman again after drinking in The Shovels pub. The court heard Coward thought he was “on a promise” when the woman agreed to go home with him.
But when she fell asleep on the bed, he attacked her for a second time, using his physical strength to overpower the actress.
A few days later the woman confided in her mum and a friend, and reported Coward to police.
He admitted having sex with the woman but insisted she had consented.
In a victim personal statement the woman said she felt dirty following the attacks and suffered anxiety and sleeplessness.
In July last year, Coward claimed he had been falsely accused of rape and told his Facebook followers: “Today I was found not guilty. I am elated at the verdict, justice has been served.”
But following a CPS review the case proceeded to trial and Coward was convicted.
Judge Newell said: “You are a man of previous good character and were living at home with your mother and working in your own business at the time.”
He jailed Coward for 54 months.