A Hale Barns businessman "raped" two women after he "stupefied" them with drugs, a court has heard.

Lawrence Jones was working as a piano player at the time of the alleged incidents during the 1990s.

Now 55, Jones, of Brooks Drive, is a businessman best known as the founder of UKFast Ltd. He denies two counts of rape for which he went on trial at Manchester Crown Court this week.

Prosecutor Eloise Marshall KC said the two women came forward to the police in the last two years.

Ms Marshall said: "The women, who did not know each other, came forward to the police and made allegations of rape against Lawrence Jones. It is The Crown's case at the time Lawrence Jones committed those offences he used drugs in order to facilitate them. 

"The manner in which the drugs were administered in each case differs but the effects were the same. 

"Both women were stupefied and left conscious but unable to react.

"Such was the effect of the drugs that the women, even then, were unclear about what drug had been used and what had happened to them."

Ms Marshall added: "It has taken them years to come forward and speak to the police about what Lawrence Jones did to them. By the time they did, everyone had moved on and they were in different roles in their lives.

"Lawrence Jones had become a local entrepreneur and at one time he owned and managed a company called UKFast Limited. It is a tech company and it was this success in that role which brought him into the public eye."

Jones denies two counts of rape.

The trial at Manchester Crown Court, before Judge Sarah Johnston, continues this week.

This article was written by Jack Tooth. To contact him, email jack.tooth@newsquest.co.uk or follow @JTRTooth on Twitter.