Six-year sentence for British soldier who raped woman in Belfast

Perpetrator only admitted the offence after he was confronted with CCTV footage

An English soldier who raped a woman in the centre of Belfast and who treated her as a “pure vehicle for his lust” has been handed a six-year sentence.

Ryan James Fairlamb, from Lincoln, appeared in the dock of Belfast Crown Court where he heard Judge Gordon Kerr brand the sexual assault as a "truly disgraceful incident."

The 22-year-old soldier, who was stationed at Ballykinler army camp in Co Down when he raped the woman last May, was told he will serve half the sentence in prison, with the remaining three years on supervised licence when he is released from custody.

Fairlamb was also made the subject of a sexual offences prevention order for 10 years, and was warned that if he breaches any of the conditions he faces further time in prison.


During a previous hearing last week, Belfast Crown Court was told the rape was captured on CCTV and that Fairlamb only admitted the offence after watching the footage. His victim, who is now 23, has since been diagnosed with post- traumatic stress disorder.

Crown prosecutor Kate McKay told last week’s hearing that on the evening of May 30th last year, both Fairlamb and the woman were in a nightclub in the Cathedral area of Belfast, and that in the early hours of the following morning, she became separated from the rest of her company.

At this stage she met Fairlamb, the pair struck up a conversation, and as they were leaving the club he told her he was in the British army and asked her if she wanted to come back to the army camp with him. She declined his request but they agreed to share a taxi which would drop her off home.

The woman and Fairlamb then walked around the city centre trying to get a taxi. There was “consensual” kissing and hugging, then Fairlamb pulled her in front of a building where he tried to put his hand down her pants, with her telling him to stop. He then brought her to the entrance of a block of apartments, and at that point he pulled her to the ground and raped her.

Mrs McKay said the woman tried to push Fairlamb off, and when she said she would scream Fairlamb put his hand over her mouth and threatened to break her nose. Telling the court that the incident lasted around 18 minutes and was captured on CCTV, counsel said that at one stage during the sexual assault Fairlamb “pushed her about quite roughly.”

The incident came to an end when two men who live in the apartment block arrived at the entrance, causing Fairlamb to flee.

Despite not knowing her attacker’s full name, the woman was able to confirm he was a soldier in the army and was stationed at Ballykinler.

Fairlamb was subsequently identified and asked to account for his movements on the morning in question. He said that on the afternoon of May 30th, he had been out in Downpatrick and had returned to the base where he continued drinking with colleagues. When it was suggested he had raped the woman, he said he had a long-term girlfriend of seven years and he “wasn’t that type of person.”

The court also heard that during the investigation, it emerged Fairlamb had sent one of his friends a message on WhatsApp saying “If anyone asks, I wasn’t out last night.”

During police interviews, Fairlamb admitted he had been out and initially said he had consensual sex with the woman – a claim which Mrs McKay said was “completely at odds” with the CCTV footage.

When he was shown the CCTV footage, Fairlamb said he realised half way through the sexual encounter that he was overpowering the woman but accepted he continued having sex with her. He also branded the footage as “disgusting” and asked officers to turn it off. Fairlamb subsequently pleaded guilty to a single charge of rape on May 31st, 2014.

Defence barrister Gavan Duffy said his client – who he pointed out came before the court with no criminal record – was aware of the “hurt and damage” he had caused to the victim, and that he displayed remorse for his actions.

Revealing Fairlamb is currently suspended from the army and will not be returning to his job, Mr Duffy said the incident was "completely out of character" for a man who was otherwise known for his thoughtfulness.

Passing sentence, Judge Kerr spoke of the impact the incident has had on the young woman. As a result of what happened to her, she has been diagnosed with PTSD, has lost her trust in people, and has difficulty sleeping.

Judge Kerr continued: “This was a truly disgraceful incident. The defendant treated the victim as a pure vehicle for his lust. Not only did he physically assault her but he put her through the indignity of raping her in a public street and the horror of having people come upon her with her pants lying in the street, her clothes in disarray and with numerous scrapes and marks on her body.

“Then when confronted with his behaviour, he only accepted his guilt when confronted with clear and undeniable evidence.”

Judge Kerr concluded by saying that while he accepted Fairlamb has displayed remorse, and came before the court with a clear criminal record, the offence as so serious it warranted a prison sentence.