Episode 17 – Manchester Serial Rapist – Reynhard Sinaga
Reynhard Sinaga is an unassuming man, barely 5ft 7 in tall, with a slim figure, a friendly smile and thick-rimmed glasses. His friends in Manchester described him as nice, meek, and inoffensive—in fact, Reynhard was said to be so square it was hard even to imagine him getting a parking ticket. But it was under that inconspicuous appearance that Reynhard was able to hide his true self—nobody knew this man was really one of the worst predators in British history.
Born on February 19, 1983, in Jambi, Sumatra, Indonesia, Reynhard Sinaga was part of a Catholic family and spent most of his childhood in Depok, on the southern outskirts of Jakarta. Reynhard’s mother, Normawati, let her son and his sibling attend the state school close to their home, even though the privileged family with a palm oil plantation and refinery could have sent the children to an expensive private school. According to Normawati, she wanted Raynhard and his siblings to grow up humble. As a boy, Reynhard played the piano but did not enjoy performing in the church.
Normawati described her son as a “gentle boy” who “loved to bury himself” in a book. Instead of going out much, Reynhard was more interested in studying, which was reflected in his grades. After graduating from high school, Reynhard studied architecture at the prestigious University of Indonesia and obtained his bachelor’s degree in 2006.
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It was later noted that in the university yearbook, under a picture of Reynhard was an email address pantat_babi_bersina[email protected] Likely most of his fellow students were unaware that the address translated as “Shiny pig butt.” After his graduation, Reynhard went to a college in America but returned home just a few months later, saying he did not like how students in the States were more interested in partying than studying. Hoping for a different kind of atmosphere, 24-year-old Reynhard moved to England and enrolled at the University of Manchester. According to his mother, Reynhard instantly fell in love with the UK and eventually completed degrees in Planning in 2009 and Sociology in 2011. Reynhard attempted to continue his studies, working towards a PhD in human geography at Leeds University—his thesis on “sexuality and everyday transnationalism among south Asian gay and bisexual men in Manchester” was assessed as a failure in 2016.
Reynhard was, however, permitted to amend and resubmit it. Around this time, Normawati was begging her son to return home to help with the family company and look after his younger siblings. But Reynhard refused to move back to Indonesia as he felt much more comfortable in Manchester—even though Reynhard did not say it out loud, his country’s attitude to homosexuality was likely one of the biggest reasons he chose to remain in the UK. In Manchester, Reynhard was able to live openly as a gay man, but in Indonesia, you are only tolerated if you keep quiet and stay discreet about your private life. And not just that, two provinces of Indonesia criminalise same-sex sexual activity. For example, the northern province of Aceh passed a law in 2014 to punish anyone caught having gay sex with 100 lashes of a cane. Reynhard did not really have to think twice if he should stay in the UK or not.
But Normawati kept having a strange feeling, like her heart was telling her she had to bring her son back home. Normawati kept begging Reynhard, even threatening to stop sending him money—but he did not listen. Less than a year later, Normawati received a call that she would never forget. In June 2017, Reynhard’s parents were contacted by Greater Manchester Police, Informing them their son had been arrested for a “serious crime” and was in hospital after a fight. Immediately, Normawati went through all the possibilities she could imagine of what had happened in her head, as she later recalled:
“I was terrified. I thought he might have been robbed or had a fatal fight with a robber. He is not the type of boy who likes to fight. When he was a child, he never had a fight with anyone.”
When Normawati visited Reynhard in hospital, he had bruises all over his face, neck and some parts of his body. His eyes were barely open. Normawati later remembered how angry she was feeling seeing her son in that state after being beaten up by a big, tall westerner. It did not matter that an Indonesian diplomat had told Normawati that her son was actually accused of rape—at this point, she was wondering if the other person had simply made up the story to get out of trouble.
From the hospital, Normawati went to Reynhard’s flat in central Manchester. She found the whole room upside down with bloodstains on the bed sheets and the pillows. Normawati did not even dare to think what the fighting had been like—she just cried for her son’s fate and what was about to come. But nothing could have prepared Normawati for the truth. The dark side of Reynhard’s life in the UK began to unravel when an 18-year-old amateur rugby union player awoke on the floor on the morning of June 2, 1017. He had been drinking at the Factory club in Manchester the night before and got separated from his friends, but fortunately, there had been a good Samaritan who offered to help him—that person was Reynhard Sinaga.
Reynhard invited the lost teenager to his flat that was located nearby the club, saying he could try to call the missing friends from there. Instead, the 18-year-old had woken in the early hours still in the stranger’s flat to find his jeans and boxer shorts around his knees and Reynhard in the process of sexually assaulting him. Upon realising his victim was conscious, Reynhard screamed “help” and “intruder” before a fight broke out. Reynhard was able to bite the 18-year-old several times, but in the end, his victim was bigger and stronger and beat the fake good Samaritan up so badly he thought he might have killed him. So, the teenager called 999 and waited for the ambulance at Montana House.
When the paramedics and the police arrived, Reynhard was stretchered out and taken to the hospital with a suspected bleed on the brain. Meanwhile, the 18-year-old, who was initially arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm, discovered a white iPhone 4 in his jeans pocket—which belonged to Reynhard. After questioning the teenager, detectives from Greater Manchester police soon realised they had detained the wrong person. So, they took Reynhard’s phone and went to Manchester Royal Infirmary to interview him. Immediately, the detectives noticed that the 34-year-old was behaving quite oddly, repeatedly asking for his phone to be returned to him and refusing to tell the police the correct pin.
When Reynhard finally unlocked the phone, he made one last attempt to grab it from detectives before giving up. When the device was then examined, the police uncovered videos and photographs showing Reynhard raping numerous, apparently sleeping, young men. The initial discovery was already shocking, but as the investigators kept going through Reynhard’s devices, including another iPhone, they found more than anyone could have ever imagined. Altogether, Greater Manchester police uncovered 3.29 Terabytes of extremely graphic material—to put that in perspective, 1 TB can hold 250,000 photos or 250 films. It immediately became clear that there had not been just a few victims, even describing it as dozens didn’t come close…. It would take the investigators months to examine all the digital evidence—like the senior investigating officer DI Zed Ali said, it was “like trying to put together a million-piece jigsaw without the jigsaw cover.”
In the end, the excruciating analysis was able to calculate at least 206 victims—all were men, and as it later emerged, the majority of them were heterosexuals. The police were able to uncover a WhatsApp message exchange from July 2015 in which Reynhard told his friend his flatmate was moving out. The friend replied, “You can get in lots of straight boys, darling”, to which Reynhard responded with a photograph of his latest victim passed out with a message saying:
“Hahaha. You mean like this one?”
In addition, in January 2015, Reynhard told his friend he had approached a man the previous night who had argued with his girlfriend in Factory nightclub. Based on the photo Reynhard sent to his friend of this man, he had been able to lure him to his apartment. Along with the picture was a message saying:
“SuperRey saves straight boys from their monstrous girlfriend.”
Based on the replies from his friends, seeing the inside of Reynhard’s bedroom was not something that happened often. One friend said that Reynhard was actually always screaming “NO, it’s too messy” whenever someone tried to enter his room. In the end, Reynhard’s friends began to joke that dead male bodies were piling under his bed—even though that is not exactly what was going on, the friends were not too far off.
After the discovery of the videos and photographs of the sexual abuse, the police questioned Reynhard, who claimed that the victims aged 17 to 36 were not victims at all. According to him, all men had agreed to participate in a sexual role play which included them pretending to be asleep during the act. Proving the lack of consent was one of the biggest tasks for the prosecution in the case—especially because each of Reynhard’s victims suffered a degree of memory loss, and the majority did not even remember they had been sexually assaulted. Many of the victims had woken up at Reynhard’s home, feeling disoriented and confused without any idea what had happened the night before—likely thinking they had just been drinking too much. Some of the men had even thanked Reynhard for taking care of them in their intoxicated state—when in reality, the fake Good Samaritan had been the reason for their comatose state.
The police concluded that Reynhard hunted for his prey at nightclubs and bars nearby his flat. He would wait outside for drunk men and convince them to accompany him to his flat by promising more drinks, help to call a taxi or a place to sober up a little. Once inside his home, Reynhard offered his victim a spiked drink—the investigators did not find any drugs inside the apartment or anywhere else, but it is believed Reynhard likely used something like gamma-hydroxybutyric acid. GHB, also known as “club drug” or “date rape” drug, can have positive effects like euphoria and increased sex drive, which is why it is often used at parties and raves. But it can also cause sweating, loss of consciousness, nausea, hallucinations, amnesia, and even coma. So, it could definitely explain the state of Reynhard’s victims seen in the videos he recorded.
One of the victims and the first one who waived his right to anonymity, a man named Daniel, later explained how horrible it was to see photographs of the attack. Daniel could not remember anything that had happened, so seeing himself all vulnerable in the photos in a comatose-like state, almost looking dead, was an unreal experience. Like rewatching a nightmare, you cannot remember. Daniel also explained the reason why not a single victim had gone to the police earlier—even though Daniel felt something was not right when he woke up from a home of a strange man, he was “doubting himself”, “felt stupid”, and “didn’t have a clue what had happened”.
Another victim, a 21-year-old man, did later recall how Reynhard had given him something to drink at his flat:
“It looked like water, but there was a solution in it, almost like salt. It wasn’t as transparent as water. “I think I said to him, ‘What’s this? This isn’t water’, and he said, ‘It’s water, you need to drink water’.”
After that, the 21-year-old experienced a total blackout until he woke up the next day with “the worst hangover ever.” Even though the man noticed a used condom underneath a set of drawers, he eventually believed Reynhard’s explanation of him saving the passed-out 21-year-old on the sidewalk next to Factory that night. All the rapes and assaults followed the same pattern, Reynhard drugging his victims and using their bodies in most cases for a few hours. While doing so, he filmed the acts using two mobile phones—in some of the videos, it can clearly be heard his victims were snoring, totally unconscious. In addition to filming, Reynhard also had a habit of taking “trophies” from his victims, including their personal belongings and screenshots of their Facebook profiles.
Often after an assault, Reynhard boasted about what he had done in a WhatsApp group—not going too much into details but still, for example, clearly hinting he was targeting and drugging heterosexual men. In early 2015, Reynhard texted a friend saying he had just had his first sexual intercourse of the year with a man who was not gay. He wrote:
“He was straight in 2014. 2015 is his breakthrough to the gay world hahaha. Well, he was straight until we woke up naked.”
Once Reynhard mentioned a “secret poison” that he used to make men fall in love with him. When someone asked for a recipe, Reynhard replied:
“Black magic yeah! Rey makes drink potion of gay love haha … Take a sip of my secret poison, I’ll make you fall in love.”
That poison was so powerful none of these heterosexual men knew what actually had happened—but were still happy they had woken up at the home of another man, rather than with another woman. One victim even returned with his girlfriend the next day so that Reyhard could confirm he had been sleeping on his couch. It was not until the police contacted them several years later that the truth of the “good samaritan” was revealed. Understandably, many of the victims have ever since struggled with their mental health—which is why Daniel decided to speak out in 2021 in hopes of helping the other victims.
During the investigation, it was concluded that the earliest known assault took place in the early hours of New Year’s Day in 2015. So, by the time his final victim reported him to the police, Reynhard had been hunting for men of Manchester for 2.5 years. Sometimes there were long breaks between the attacks, but there were also times when Reynhard raped multiple victims within the same weekend. Due to the high number of victims, Reynhard had to be prosecuted in four trials between 2018 and 2020.
Despite the mountain of evidence against him, Reynhard never admitted to what he had done or showed any signs of remorse. And because he pleaded ‘not guilty’ to all charges, Reynhard forced his victims to go through trials and evidence of the sexual acts to be shown in court. His defence claimed that everything seen in videos and photographs were just part of a sexual game between two consenting adults.
Reynhard maintained his story that the other men were simply fulfilling his fantasy by playing dead while he used their bodies. He also claimed all the victims had lied to police to avoid being outed as gay, saying:
“It is not an easy thing for some people to come out as gay. That has probably influenced the way they want to answer it. They were probably scared that, ‘what if my girlfriend finds out I was lying and that night I was with a man?”
Needless to say, Reynhard’s defence was dismissed as “ludicrous”—there was no way that he had found 206 heterosexual men agreeing to play dead and be filmed in the most intimate ways imaginable while another man used their bodies. It was also noted that Reynhard had used protection on very few occasions and caused injury to his victims.
At the end of trial four, the judge stated that she was “unaware of any other case of sexual offending of this scale and magnitude.” In addition, the Crown Prosecution Service described Reynhard Sinaga as being the most prolific rapist in British legal history. In the end, he was found guilty of assaulting 48 men and was convicted of 136 counts of rape, 14 counts of sexual assault, eight counts of attempted rape and one count of assault by penetration. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 40 years. What really marks the seriousness of Reynhard’s actions is the fact that Judge Suzanne Goddard QC considered “whole life order” when sentencing him—a sentence like that has never been given to rapists, just murderers.
Judge Goddard stated:
“In my judgment, you are a highly dangerous, cunning and deceitful individual who will never be safe to be released, but that is a matter for the Parole Board.”
Reynhard’s earliest possibility for parole will be in 2060 when he is 77 years old. The irony, in this case, is that Reynhard Sinaga’s obsession with filming every single sexual assault he committed was the only reason he was ever convicted. If he had not felt the need to keep trophies, the extent of Reynhard’s crimes would likely never have been revealed. But instead, Reynhard ensured his own downfall.
Host – Rhiannon Doe
Voiceover – Kwesi
Website layout & design – Fran Howard
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