A gambling addict has been jailed for 19 years after stealing hundreds of pounds from a number of escorts and raping one woman in hotels across the country.
The jury also found the man to be guilty of holding up an imitation firearm to another woman’s head in a terrifying series of incidents last year.
Aaron Gardner, 29, of Wollaton, committed the robberies to get cash to feed his gambling habit.
He was convicted by a jury on 12 and 13 November 2020 of five counts of robbery, one count of rape and one count of possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit one of the robberies.
He was sentenced to 19 years in prison today (27 November 2020) at Nottingham Crown Court.
He was also ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for life.
The charges relate to incidents in hotels in Nottingham, Birmingham and London against five woman over a period of three months in 2019.
The first incident in Nottingham in April 2019, Gardner grabbed a woman by the throat and pinned her down. He forced a pillow over her face to dampen her screams for help. He then demanded money, before stealing £3,000 and a mobile phone. During the ordeal the man continually made threats to kill her and when he left he told her not to follow him.
Gardner requested the services of another escort and met up with her in a hotel room in London in July 2019. As the door shut, he approached the woman from behind and grabbed her by the throat. He demanded money, put her in a headlock for 20-minutes and stole the only money she had on her, which was £60.
Ten days later in Birmingham, he booked to meet another woman. He threw her onto the floor and produced a firearm almost immediately after meeting her. He threatened to kill her with the gun and stole £1,500 cash from her handbag.
During the second incident in Nottingham in July 2019, he again became aggressive and grabbed the woman around the neck, into another head lock and dragged her to the floor. He demanded cash from her and stole from her. The victim suffered injuries to her face and neck.
He met with a fifth woman in Birmingham in July 2019. He immediately attacked her as soon as he entered the room and threatened her that if she did not do as he say, he would kill her. The victim screamed out for help, so Gardner stuffed newspaper in her mouth to shut her up. He went on to rape her. He told her not follow him or he would stab her and come for her family.
Officers were able to track down Gardner in Basford and executed a search warrant to make the arrest. A large amount of mobile devices were located and seized as part of the investigation.
A t-shirt and baseball cap were also seized, which matched description of items worn by Gardner during the robbery and rape in Birmingham in July 2019.
Detective Constable Raj Johal, of Nottinghamshire Police, led the investigation. She said: “This was an appalling catalogue of offences that – had it not been for the bravery and determination of the victim – would have gone unresolved and unpunished.
“We hope that the lengthy sentencing will give some closure to each victim after they were left petrified and in pain after meeting Gardner last year.
“He had arranged to meet five escorts in three hotels last year. Each time he was violent towards each of them and demanded money.
“He stole hundreds of pounds from the woman and used it to feed a gambling habit.
“Detectives were able to locate him after going through hours of CCTV footage as part of the investigation.
“They were able to follow his movements at each hotel.
“We also did a lot of mobile phone work in relation to all the offences. We were able to match his mobile phone number which he used to call each sex worker, which matched data from the seized mobile phones.
“Today’s sentencing brings to an end the court case which has been a difficult journey for all the victims, who displayed great dignity and courage throughout the lengthy investigation.
“I’d also like to praise my colleagues as the investigation demonstrated excellent team work and they should be proud to have achieved such a good sentence for the offender.
“I would also like to remind all victims of sexual abuse that it is never too late to report what happened to you in the past. We will listen to you, we will investigate and we will to our absolute best to get justice for you.”