March 2018

Southwick Removals boss had sex with boy and touched employee

A removals firm boss has been spared jail after putting his hand down an employee’s trousers in a bid to lure him into a threesome with a 15-year-old boy.

Robert Vowles, 38, from Southwick, asked his 18-year-old worker to bring lunch to his flat in a deliberate ploy to get him to walk in on him having sex with the 15-year-old boy, a court heard.

But when the worker declined to join in, Vowles put his hands in his trousers.

At a sentencing hearing at Lewes Crown Court yesterday, Judge Charles Kemp said the offence was so serious it could have warranted 24 months imprisonment.

The court had earlier heard Vowles had been boss of a removals firm at the time of the sex attack on November 16, 2014, in Hove.

Vowles had asked his worker to accompany him on a removals job, and during the van journey he revealed he was gay and wanted him to join in a threesome.

In a deliberate ploy, the boss then asked his worker to get lunch and take it to his flat in Shirley Street, Hove.

The worker walked in on Vowles having sex with a 15-year-old boy

When the worker declined to join in, his boss put his hands down his trousers. The worker then fled.

After coming forward two years after the attack, the victim told the court he had not consented to being touched.

Vowles, of Downsway, Southwick, pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual assault.

A jury acquitted him of one and found him guilty of another count of sexual assault – touching.

Judge Kemp sentenced Vowles to 24 months imprisonment, but suspended it for two years as his network of support from health professionals would be “interrupted” if he was jailed.

He was also sentenced to 180 hours’ unpaid work and was placed on the sex offenders’ register.

Vowles was also made subject to a ten-year sexual harm prevention order, severely restricting his access to children and computers.

He had used gay mobile app Grindr and website Craigslist to meet young-looking boys.