Violent rapist defrauded £214,000 from ex-partners

A man who defrauded £214,000 from nine former partners has been convicted of raping one of his victims while she was asleep.

Christopher Harkins, 37, was also found guilty of assaulting a woman to the danger of her life and four sex offences.

The High Court in Paisley heard he used some of his victims' names to obtain payday loans.

Police Scotland described the gambling addict as a "violent and contemptible individual" who preyed on women looking for love.

Harkins, of Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, was jailed for 15 months last year after he defrauded a financial professional out of £16,000.

During his latest trial he admitted 11 separate frauds, which spanned from January 2013 to November 2019.

The amounts taken by Harkins ranged between £350 and £72,525.

He was remanded in custody and will be sentenced next month.

'Apalling catalogue of abuse'

Judge Alistair Watson told him: "This was an appalling catalogue of financial, physical and occasional sexual abuse of your victims.

"You repeatedly portrayed yourself as a successful person when in fact you are not."

The court heard Harkins exploited women of "varying degrees of vulnerability".

Judge Watson added: "You did this over a number of years, moving from victim to victim, ruining lives as you went along.

"The harm you caused to your victims in this cannot be overstated."

A 31-year-old woman told how she met Harkins on the Tinder dating app in August 2018.

He claimed he was an IT manager who also ran a wholesale currency exchange business.

And Harkins told the victim he needed money to pay people working for him as his bank account was "frozen".

The fraudster took more than £9,000 from the woman after claiming he needed money for furniture and towards a holiday.

The same victim told how she caught Harkins trying to have sex with her when she was asleep at his home in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire.

'Walk on egg shells'

Harkins later posed as a successful IT employee and became involved in a relationship with another woman he previously met on Tinder.

This time round he convinced his victim to set up an online Betfair account in her name as he claimed his was suspended.

Prosecutor Scott McKenzie said: "He spent money from her bank account in her name to allow him to place bets."

Harkins took a total of £75,525 from her between December 2018 and April 2019.

The conman, who also claimed he was an engineer, received a further £75,300 from another woman who he met on Facebook in 2019.

Harkins' earliest victim stated that she was added by him on the social networking site in 2012.

She claimed he wooed her with champagne and lavish gifts but their relationship later changed.

The woman said Harkins made her "walk on egg shells" and was violent towards her on three separate incidents.

This included him grabbing her face and kicking her on the stomach after she was pushed out of the property in her pyjamas.

Police said Harkins' victims were from Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Inverclyde, Edinburgh, Stirling, Paisley and West Lothian.

Det Insp Iain Renfrew said: “Christopher Harkins is a violent and contemptable individual who preyed on woman looking for love and companionship.

"He made them believe they were in a loving and exclusive relationship but that was nowhere near the truth. His only motive was money."

The officer said that once Harkins formed relationships he turned to "manipulation, threats, coercive control and violence".

He also praised the women who testified during the case and urged anyone experiencing similar abuse to come forward.