A CULT leader has been jailed for 10 years for raping and sexually assaulting two female followers.
Michael Lyons, 52, who was also known as Mohan Singh, had faced a string of sex offence charges that were said to have taken place between 1998 and 2008 against seven alleged victims – one an American and one a New Zealander - while he operated as a self-confessed 'spiritual group leader'.
Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Nick Giles said: "Lyons purported to be a naturopath, skilled in osteopathy, acupuncture and nutrition. His followers were mainly women, who supported his lavish lifestyle.
"He was introduced to potential new members through his followers. The new members were also women, with interests in spiritualism and well being.
"We heard in evidence that Lyons used a program of sleep deprivation and psychological harassment as well as group social pressure to coerce them to join. He sexually assaulted victims during this process.
"This coercive persuasion forced people to change their beliefs, ideas, attitudes and behaviours, using psychological pressure, undue influence, threats, anxiety and intimidation.
"Evidence of bad character was used to show his cult activities and sexual misconduct."
One victim was attacked after travelling to a basement flat in Finchley Road, north-west London, for a so-called group healing session.
She was handed a carrot and orange juice drink and an Oxo cube-like liquorice remedy, which turned out to be a powerful laxative, before being invited into a side room to receive treatment for back trouble.
The woman said Lyons had a well-rehearsed patter that preceded the sex attack.
"It’s such a clever routine. I am certain others have gone through it," she said.
"Just before he assaulted me, the thought went through my head: ‘He has done this before’.
"I just thought he was a chippy little bloke, I thought I knew the sort, the kind of guy he is. ”
"It is like someone jumped out on me in the dark, but in a psychological sense.
"It’s a sense of false safety. I didn’t realise that these women were effectively Stepford Wives. It’s all part of the grooming."
Lyons, of Brondesbury Park, Brondesbury, had denied all the charges against him at Wood Green Crown Court in north-east London but on Monday (July 26) he was found guilty by the jury of the June 2002 rape of a 34-year-old woman at an address in Belsize Park in central London, for which he received seven years' imprisonment, and of the assault by penetration of a 43-year-old woman in January 2005, for which he was given a consecutive three-year jail term.
He was cleared of three further counts of rape and one of sexual assault against four separate women and a further count of rape and a further count of sexual assault are to lie on file.