On July 22nd 1996, a 22 year-old man named Sean Peacock broke into the home of an 84 year-old woman who weighed 5 1/5 stone, and raped her.
Based on DNA evidence, he was convicted in 2002 (the amazing woman, aged 90 at the time, testified in court!!) and served six years in prison despite claiming memory loss (alcohol-induced). During a sex offender rehabilitation program, he was taught photography, which he became rather good at. After his release in 2008 he began working for some of the top modelling agencies and changed his name to Shaun Colclough.
Throughout 2011, he brought young relatively new models to his studio in Hackney Wick and proceeded to batter their self-esteem and induce a sense of terror and vulnerability before sexually assaulting them. I was one of these models. Compared to his other crimes, his offence against me was minor and, not believing anything could be done, I tried to get on with my life- until a chance conversation with another model revealed she also had been a victim and a disturbing pattern began to emerge.
I named him in August 2011 on this blog and a worrying number of other models came in to tell their stories. (Here’s the post- go through the comments). Eventually, Shaun himself came online to attempt to justify his actions. Notice that in my response to him, I recognised his words for those of a rapist. Frightening indeed.
Fingering, vaginal and anal touching, forced oral sex, indecent exposure… As the stories came pouring in, many of us called the police and gave our statements. This was at the height of the Jimmy Saville scandal and I think the Met Police were rather swamped so the trial ended up being in June (2014).
Four of Shaun’s models came to testify (including me) and as the trial approached, I was asked to take down my blog until a verdict was reached. This, I did. I answered questions and looked for the first time at photographs of myself I had not seen before. I had expected court to be the way it is in American films- people yelling at me and banging things, but it wasn’t at all. I was given the option of testifying behind a screen or video link so I never had to look at him. (I chose neither but it was a comfort to other girls). I won’t lie- it was not a pleasant experience, but this kind of thing never is. However, I think all the women who testified felt inside that there was something deeply unsettling about Shaun and if our words could help get justice for any of us, the fear and discomfort would be worth it…
Shaun was sentenced today at Snaresbrook Crown Court- two consecutive sentences for sexual assault totalling SEVEN YEARS, with an extended license for five (meaning the police will be watching for an extra five years). In addition,
– He will be banned from taking photos of female models without an adult present with no convictions and full knowledge of his prior offences
– His hard-drive will be destroyed
– He will be put on the latest sex offenders register
– During the sentencing, his defence barrister stated that should Shaun decide to appeal, he will not represent him(!)
– Nothing to do with the sentencing, but due to the first arrest, Shaun also lost his marriage. (Yes, he had been married.)
The judge’s statement before passing the sentence was interesting. She mentioned that despite the defence barristers best efforts to convince her otherwise, she felt the current sexual assaults were linked to the past rape in the sense that “no doubt he deliberately contacted the vulnerable” and enjoyed the power and fear he instilled in the victims- “fear deliberately engendered by you”.
The defence barrister attempted to argue that there was no escalation on the level of crime committed (violent rape versus sexual assault on nude women) but, rightly, the judge countered that there was escalation: his rape defence centred on the idea that it was a drunken impulse, yet this series of assaults had been premeditated and there was the element of further degradation reached by photographing our discomfort and humiliation. At the bottom of this post is a photo he took of me that I had kept hidden until now.
Even more chilling: he had mentioned to one victim that he intended to take a trip to Amsterdam “to photograph pretty women on the street”. This too was brought up as evidence of premeditation. These women, not being professional models, would have had no clue how a normal photoshoot should proceed. Even easier targets…
I must say, when she bellowed “Shaun Colclough, STAND UP” as she passed the sentence, I began to shake- I hadn’t dared to hope for even three years- let alone seven. But here we are.
Now, more witnesses have come forward and it looks as though there will be another court session with a view to extending the sentence of the monster and rapist that is Shaun Colclough.
Please share this blog with anyone you know in the modelling/photography community. It is certain he assaulted and likely raped more women and they deserve the chance to see justice served.
If you were a Colclough victim and did not originally come forward, please consider doing so now. Court is not much fun, but there is support available throughout the process. Going through the experience and seeing the result has been the most empowering thing I have ever done. Had nobody been willing to fight, the rapist would still be out there.
This goes for anyone who has been sexually attacked: fight, for I promise you are not alone. You are stronger than you ever thought possible.
Thankyou, everyone who has supported us and taken care of us in times when our strength was at its lowest. Thankyou, brave brave women who saw this through to the end.