A former body builder who subjected a woman to a catalogue of horrendous abuse has been found guilty of all charges against him.

Matthew James Gardner, from the Isles of Scilly but currently living in Redruth, has been standing trial at Truro Crown Court on 14 charges.

These included:

  • Nine charges of rape.
  • Assault by penetration 
  • Controlling or coercive behaviour.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges, but a jury was unanimous in finding him guilty of all 14 charges.

Due to reporting restrictions, much of the detail regarding Gardner’s crimes cannot be made public but was often extremely distressing.

The trial heard evidence of violent rapes and forcing a urine-soaked toothbrush into the mouth of the victim.

The prosecution opened their case by saying Gardner created “a climate of fear and control” that he used to gain sexual gratification.

In video evidence, played to the jury, the complainant described Gardner “love bombing” her, by turning up to her place of work and telling her: “I’ve never felt this way about someone before.”

Not long after meeting him she became ill, but despite telling him she didn’t want to see him he insisted on staying the night, before proceeding to have sex with her the next morning – despite her pleas for him to stop.

She said: “I kept saying to him ‘Please don’t, I don’t want to’ but he said, ‘Just relax, I can’t help myself, I’m so attracted to you’.”

Gardner had tried to tell the court that their sexual encounters were always “completely consensual” but the jury did not believe him.

She described Gardner as being “obsessed with the gym”. At one point she underwent a major medical procedure in hospital but told the court that the very next morning he made her “go out and do an hour and a half of cardio”, even when she was bleeding through her clothes, telling her: “You don’t want to be sat around eating biscuits. You have got to f***ing work for it.”

She said that he also insisted that she give him oral sex, despite her still recovering, and prevented her from doing anything else until she completed it.

She said he had thrown plates at her, and taken his work boots and “whacked them against my head, roaring in my face.”

“He had a personality in public of being really loving and affectionate, but behind closed doors it was a really different kettle of fish,” she added.

In the video evidence the woman recalled how on one occasion she was forced to put a bag of frozen peas on herself, due to the pain caused by one sexual encounter.

On another, she said he grabbed a sock and “rammed it in my mouth”, put his hand on the back of her head and then raped her. She claimed that afterwards he told her: “No one is going to believe you if you tell anyone about this.”

The court heard that once she was brushing her teeth when Gardner grabbed her toothbrush, threw it in the toilet, urinated on it and then rammed it in her mouth.

On a different occasion, she said, he pushed her head into the toilet, although not the water, and had sex with her.

And on another time, he raped her and then spat on her. The woman added: “One time he tried to put his fist inside of me. I started screaming. He grabbed my throat and said, ‘If you don’t shut up I’ll snap your neck’.”

Gardner had tried to paint a picture of his victim being manipulative and out for financial gain.

He described himself as having “the patience of a saint” and at one point told the jury: “People get frustrated with me as they can to provoke me but I’m so laid back I’m horizontal.”

Gardner tried to suggest that the victim and witnesses for the prosecution had all lied under oath, but the prosecutor put to him: "I suggest you're an extremely maniuplative liar." 

When asked if there was anything Gardner regretted about any of his actions he took with regards to the complainant, he gave an impassioned response, saying: “The only thing I regret with that woman is ever meeting her. She has made my life a living hell. 

“My name has been absolutely destroyed.”

He appealed to the jury to “make the right decision” – but it took the jury just two and a half hours to agree a unanimous verdict of guilty on all charges.

Gardner will be released on conditional bail, with a restraining order in place, ahead of sentencing in April once a pre-sentence report has been completed.

However, he was told by the judge: “It is absolutely inevitable that a custodial sentence will be imposed at the time of your sentencing.”