The latest victim of ‘The Clifton Rapist’ only found out he was Britain’s longest-serving prisoner after watching a documentary about him – just days after being told police couldn’t find him on their systems.
Ronald Evans, 82, was today jailed for four years after being convicted of sexually assaulting a woman following his release from prison after more than half a century behind bars.
The sentencing hearing heard the victim had only learned of his previous offending – including his convictions for a sexually-motivated murder in 1963 and a string of sexual offences in the Bristol area following his initial release – after watching an ITV documentary about ‘Britain’s longest-serving prisoner’.
ITV journalist and documentary maker Robert Murphy, who made the documentary about Evans, said he had no idea until this morning that his film had played a part in the case.
Lauren Sales, prosecuting, told the court that Evans’ latest victim, who made a complaint to police on August 2, had been ‘shocked’ to learn that her attacker, who she once regarded as a friend, was a notorious criminal.
Ronald Evans, 82, volunteered at a community centre to prey on a vulnerable woman after he was released from prison following a 39-year term
In the 1970s, Evans committed a string of sex attacks on lone women at night in Bristol, becoming known as the ‘Clifton rapist’, with further offences coming to light years later following advances in scientific tests
Paraphrasing the victim’s impact statement, Ms Sales said: ‘One day, after she’d gone to the police she’d sat down in front of the television.
‘She saw the news on ITV and there was Mr Evans: the Clifton Rapist, the UK’s longest-serving prisoner.
‘And they were talking of how he’d raped and murdered someone and how he had raped many more woman after he had got out of prison.
‘She felt sick and called 101. She told them that was the man they couldn’t find on their systems.
‘He was there on the TV in her living room.’
Earlier this week, Evans, now aged 82, was found guilty of sexually assaulting the woman and cleared of three sexual offences against a second woman.
Today, Judge Vanessa Francis sentenced him to four years in prison but warned it would be for the Parole Board to decide when it was safe to release him.
She told Evans: ‘The sheer length of time you remained in custody speaks volumes as to the Parole Board’s view of the risk you posed.
‘It is apparent from your actions towards (the victim) that time has done nothing to change the fact you are a sexual predator.’
‘You sought out a new new victim that was vulnerable who you knew you could manipulate.’
Judge Francis described the defendant, who appeared by video link from Pentonville jail, as ‘intelligent and manipulative’.
Earlier in mitigation, Afzal Anwar had suggested that Evans had been helping people in the community in a ‘positive way’.
But the Judge told Evans: ‘You have now been recalled twice for further sexual offending.
‘It will be a matter for the parole board when they review this case whether there is any view taken your behaviour was totally altruistic or looking for others with similar vulnerabilities.
‘The risk you pose to women is significant. The combination of your history and continuing sexual interest underlies my concern you are a risk of serious sexual harm to women.’
Ronald Evans, 82, (pictured) was jailed for a string of rapes in Bristol between 1977 and 1979
The rapist, who murdered 21-year-old shop worker Kathleen Heathcote in 1963, was yesterday convicted of sexually assaulting the woman in July last year
Evans, 82, was dubbed the ‘Clifton Rapist’ following a string of attacks on women in Bristol
Evans was jailed for a string of rapes in Bristol between 1977 and 1979 (File image of Bristol)
Setting out the offence, the judge told how the victim had become involved with the community centre after suffering from domestic violence and the effects of the prolonged lockdown.
Having met Evans, she became concerned he wanted more than friendship after swapping numbers but he said he did not want a relationship.
The judge said: ‘Clearly this was a lie you told in order to stay close to (her) so you could exploit her and her obvious vulnerability.’
They met up at a local pub before they went to Evans’s flat where he boasted about getting emails with nude pictures from women wanting to have sex with him before grabbing the victim’s bottom.
When the victim phoned Evans the following day to confront him about his behaviour, he had said: ‘This kind of talk will get me in trouble,’ and hung up.
Judge Francis told Evans: ‘It seems clear there was a genuine plan. You had decided you would take any chance to satisfy your sexual desire by making sexual contact with (the victim).
‘It is apparent to me that you manipulated (her) obvious vulnerabilities and cultivated her friendship so when the chance presented itself you could pursue sexual contact.’
The judge also set out Evans’ previous history of violence against women and said it was an aggravating factor in the case.
Earlier, prosecutor Lauren Sales said that as a result of the sexual assault, the victim had stopped visiting the community centre and suffered ‘ongoing trauma’.
After the sentencing, Pragati Patel, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: ‘Ron Evans presented himself as a harmless pensioner volunteering in his local community.
‘But, in reality, and despite his age, he was still very much a deviant, sexual predator waiting for his next opportunity.
‘The prosecution case included strong witness testimony and we were also able to tell the jury about some of Evans’ previous predatory behaviour towards women through bad character evidence made admissible in court.
‘Sexual offences are some of the most harrowing cases that we prosecute.
‘The CPS is committed to working with the police to bring sexual offenders before the courts. I hope this conviction and sentence provides some sense of comfort and justice to all those affected by this case.’