A man indulging in a sex fantasy inspired by Fifty Shades of Grey was yesterday found not guilty of assaulting his lover.
Ipswich Crown Court heard Steven Lock, 43, and the woman had incredibly signed a ‘sex slave’ contract – like the protagonist in 50 Shades of Grey Anastasia Steele.
In the contract she had promised Lock free use of her body, entitling him to lash her if she did not follow his rules, he jury was told.
The jury of 10 men and two women were told the complainant also had “Property of Steven Lock” tattooed above her genitals.
But she became upset when she showed Lock the permanent design – moments after the whipping incident – and he did not approve.
The court heard the woman had agreed to be whipped but was upset at how hard Lock was beating her.
This later formed the basis of her complaint to police, the court was told.
Mr Lock explained he only continued whipping for 15 seconds because the woman did not use the safe word ‘red.’
He eventually stopped when he realised she was being hurt by the sex game.
During his evidence Mr Lock told the court: “It was supposed to be kinky fun, I didn’t want her to cry.”
Roger Thomson, for Lock, told the court: “Fifty Shades Of Grey is not a manual: it’s a work of fiction and this is a case which demonstrates that things can go wrong.”
The defending barrister added: “This demonstrates that things can go wrong.
“He describes it as being a four out of ten and thought that her pain threshold was higher.
“As far as the lashes go did he realise that she wasn’t consenting because that is really the nub of this case.
“The problem was that although they had been into group sex and bondage in the past they had never done this scenario.
“He was going in to lash the victim but the problem is that he went too far. He realised this immediately and when he saw her crying he felt guilty.
“What happened was part of a role play in a consensual relationship. It is perfectly lawful to take part in this kind of sexual activity.
“If injury is accidentally caused then there is no assault.
“The man who gave her the tattoo said she was all loved up and talking about nothing but Mr Lock and he raised the issue that she was sure she wanted the tattoo.
“By the time she arrived she knew exactly what was going to happen. She had come all the way from Norfolk to Suffolk to see him.
“It seems that those lashes lasted between 10 and 15 seconds. She admitted in evidence to you that she did not use that code word.
“They then went into the lounge and it was really at that point that she showed him this tattoo that she had got.
“He was rude about it and he said he didn’t like it.
“You’re going to be upset, you’re going to be hurt. It was a dry stupid thing to say
“I couldn’t tell how hard she would like to be hit.”
Mr Thomson, defending, told jurors that Mr Lock accepted he had caused the woman harm but compared the situation to a football match in which all parties have agreed to take part.
He said: “The issue is did she consent and did Mr Lock believe that she consented.
“Is this an assault any more than a mistimed tackle in football?”
Duncan O’Donnell, prosecuting, had told the court the woman had made a plea for help by texting a friend to say: “He’s got me chained up like a dog, whipping the shit out of me.”
Mr O’Donnell added: “It was part of a master-slave fantasy and she went there expecting a fantasy when Mr Lock wanted reality.
“She may have expected some playful spanking, to be hit lightly perhaps, but she received a lashing with a rope.”
During her evidence the woman told the court: “I knew there would be pain involved and I knew I wasn’t going to like it but I’d agreed to it and had to follow it through.”
She added: “He must have been aware that I wasn’t consenting (to have that cord tied around my neck) because I was pulling it and trying to get it off.
“I knew what was coming, but I didn’t know he was going to use his whole force and whack me with it.”
Before sending the jury out for their deliberations Judge David Goodin told them: “You may or may not be familiar with the best-selling work of fiction which has spawned both sequels and imitations.
“What you are concerned with is whether or not the prosecution has proved that the defendant committed a criminal offence.”
If he had been found guilty Mr Lock could have faced a maximum of five years in prison.
But following the not guilty verdict the jeweller from Ipswich, Suffolk, said: “I think the prosecution didn’t do a good job. I’m disgusted with the whole thing.
“I’m relieved its over and am just really upset that it was brought to court in the first place.”