A man has gone on trial accused of raping five women, one while she was still a child, and sexually assaulting a sixth, as well as several charges of stalking.
Lewis Grant, 28, is said to have carried out the crimes, from southern Scotland to Stirling, over a nine-year period, allegedly beginning in a park in Dumfries in 2011 when he was still 16 and his alleged victim a child of just 15.
Two of the adult women allegedly raped are said to have had their lives endangered by Grant – one, allegedly, by having a skipping rope tightened round her neck during an alleged incident in Stirling University accommodation in Bridge of Allan.
According to the rape charge, Grant also restrained her, covered her face with an item of clothing, and “poured alcohol over her face whereby her breathing was restricted”.
He is said to have assaulted and endangered her life on other occasions, including burning her on the body with a blowtorch, striking her with a riding crop and rendering her unconscious by tightening a belt round her neck, all to her severe injury.
These alleged attacks are said to have taken place in late 2018 and during 2019 in a room in the University of Stirling’s Lyon Crescent accommodation in Bridge of Allan, and at an address in Queens Lane in the Stirlingshire former spa town.
Also in 2019, in the room in the Lyon Crescent accommodation, Grant is alleged to have raped another woman, throwing her against a headboard after she withdrew her consent following what began as consensual sex.
Another woman is said to have been raped by Grant on various occasions between October 2014 and Hogmanay 2015 in locations including Dumfries, Glasgow, Falkirk, and Queen Margaret University Drive, Musselburgh.
On various occasions between November 2015 and April 2016, he is said to have stalked a woman at addresses in Riverside and Bruce Street, both Stirling, before allegedly assaulting her to the danger of her life, detaining her in a bathroom against her will, and raping her.
At the High Court in Stirling, Grant, of Henderson Street, Bridge of Allan, pleaded not guilty to seven charges of rape, six charges of stalking, two of assault to danger of life, one of sexual assault, one of assault, and one of possessing ecstasy and cocaine.
Defence counsel Bert Kerrigan QC said Grant adhered to previously-tendered notices of special defence – that the occasions of the alleged rapes were in fact sexual intercourse with the women’s consent, or that at the time he had a reasonable belief that they were consenting.
He also said that in the case of one of the alleged assaults to the danger of life, Grant had lodged a notice of a defence that he had been acting in self defence, after the woman involved was at the time assaulting him.
The trial, before Lord Summers, is expected to last ten working days – therefore into the week after next.
The jury, sitting at a remote jury centre in Dunfermline, were told that next week they would be returning to the High Court in Stirling – the first jurors to sit in person in the historic Victorian courtroom since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.