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Ben Parker, well-known in the local arts scene, was found guilty of rape on 1st March at Chichester Crown Court. Mr Parker was known for his part-ownership of the former SeaFish cafe in Aldwick Road and as owner of Worthing-based Seraglio Point Productions whose Facebook page has just been moth-balled.
SeaFish was closed after disputes with Arun Council on a number of issues and police objections. Whether those had any connection with the current case is not known nor would it be likely the police would reveal publicly local police intel re safety concerns they may have had about Mr Parker.
The rape took place in his flat 49a Aldwick Road above Seafish. The first incident occurred on the Saturday 31 July. And the 2nd incident on December 19 2016. There were three charges in all.
Sentencing will take place on Friday next at Chichester. We are aware he sought references from well-known people publicly and that one was given by Town and District Councillor Mrs Sandra Daniells (Ind, Pevensey). She recalls: “ I first met him in about May 2016, when he contacted me about Seafish — he came across as personable and rather naive, but very enthusiastic, and seemed a nice bloke, quiet, unassuming and polite. I met him in person about three times in all. He had asked me to invest in the Seafish business, I declined after looking into it, but tried to give him some advice about business planning, licensing etc as he lacked knowledge. I didn’t ever go to Seafish but followed its progress. […] I realise I was completely taken in by him, though I gather I wasn’t the only one. “ She said her evidence was dismissed.
Another Town Cllr, Jan Cosgrove, says Parker asked him on Facebook messaging for same but that he did not respond, not knowing the man well and not having been told the charges laid in Court. “I feel great sympathy for Sandra who serves this town well. There is no need for her to blame herself. This might be a salutary warning to all Cllrs etc to be very wary of meeting such requests unless they are well-acquainted with the person and have the necessary background to the charges. This matter will no doubt come as much as a surprise, shock even, to others as to myself.”