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Rapist who targeted sleeping passenger on London Underground service jailed for 14 years

|News, Sexual offences

A dangerous predator who raped a sleeping passenger on a London Underground service has been jailed for 14 years. 

Ryan Johnston, 37, launched his attack after targeting the woman who was returning home from an evening out with friends in February 2020.

He approached the victim, who was not known to him, before sexually assaulting and then raping her in view of other passengers, including an 11-year-old child, on what was a busy morning service.

At the time of the attack, the victim was drifting in and out of sleep and awoke to find Johnston sexually assaulting her.

Today, Johnston was sentenced to nine years imprisonment, with a further five on licence, at Inner London Crown Court. He was also placed on the sex offenders register indefinitely.

Building the case:

CCTV footage helped to pinpoint Johnston’s whereabouts that evening and pinned him to the scene of the crime.

On the day of the rape, a witness reported the attack. British Transport Police and Metropolitan Police officers conducted CCTV enquiries and circulated images of the defendant wearing distinctive clothing, who was later identified as Johnston when a PCSO recognised him. 

A French national who witnessed the offence while travelling in the same carriage with his 11-year-old child was crucial to the case. The witness reported the matter to the police before departing for France and was flown over to the UK to testify at the trial. 

The testimony provided by the witness helped to rebut the defendant's claim that he knew the complainant and that she had consented.

Johnston was charged with rape, attempted rape and two counts of sexual assault. He was also charged with outraging public decency in relation to another complainant.

Johnston had pleaded not guilty to all five charges, but was convicted after a jury found him guilty following a two-week trial at Inner London Crown Court earlier this year.

Cagin Husnu, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS West Midlands, said: “This was a vile and terrifying attack on a woman who could not consent to sexual activity and should have been safe travelling home on public transport after a night out with friends.

“It’s clear the defendant posed an enormous risk to the public, and we are pleased that today’s result will see him spend a significant period of time in prison.

“Johnston’s actions have had a profound effect on the victim, who I would like to commend for the resilience she has shown in coming forward and supporting our prosecution.”

Siobhan Blake, Chief Crown Prosecutor and Rape and Serious Sexual Offences lead, said: “Women should be free to enjoy a night out without fear of sexual assault or rape. The actions of depraved men like Johnston, highlight the fact that there can be no let up in our fight against the perpetrators of sexual violence.

“The law on consent is clear: someone consents to sexual activity only if they agree by choice and have the freedom and capacity to make that choice.

“The CPS is committed to ensuring those committing such heinous crimes are prosecuted and we hope today’s result encourages those who may fear justice has evaded them to come forward.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the victim for providing the bedrock of evidence we used to build our case against Johnston.”

Notes to editors

  • Ryan Johnston (10/02/86) was charged with rape, attempted rape, two counts of sexual assault and outraging public decency.
  • The Crown Prosecution Service launched its National Operating Model for the prosecution of adult rape on 10 July 2023 alongside a police national model. Read more here.
  • The model will step up cultural and operational change right across the CPS by setting an improved and standardised approach for how all adult rape cases are handled.
  • As a result of joint working between prosecutors and police, the CPS is seeing more case referrals, more suspects charged, and decisions made more quickly. Communication channels and working relationships between the CPS, police and Independent Sexual Violence Advisors are also seeing marked improvements.

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