The Daily Telegraph

Longest-serving prisoner is back inside over sex assault conviction

- By Martin Evans crime editor

BRITAIN’S longest-serving prisoner, who spent 57 years in jail for murder and a string of rapes, is back behind bars after being convicted of another sexual assault while out on licence in his 80s.

Ronald Evans, 82, was first jailed for life in 1963 after raping and murdering a woman in Nottingham.

He was released 11 years later but was jailed again in 1979 following a string of sex attacks in the Bristol area, for which he became known as the Clifton Rapist.

Evans was released on licence for a second time in 2018, but has now been found guilty of molesting a woman he met at a community centre where he had been volunteeri­ng.

He was convicted on one count of sexual assault by a jury at Harrow Crown Court, sitting at Hendon Magistrate­s’ Court. He was cleared of two other counts of sexual assault against a different woman.

The octogenari­an’s sentencing will take place on Thursday.

The jury in his trial had been told of his previous sex crimes but not that he had raped and murdered Kathleen Heathcote, a 21-year-old shop worker, in Nottingham in 1963. Evans admitted the crime after police found some of the victim’s possession­s in his home.

He was released from a life sentence on licence in 1975 but, two years later, terrorised the Clifton and Durdham Down areas of Bristol by targeting women aged between 18 and 33 in dark alleys. He was eventually caught in 1977 when police undertook a “honeytrap” operation in which 11 female officers roamed the streets at night to snare him.

Evans began volunteeri­ng at a north London community centre after being released on licence for a second time in 2018. But his trial was told he “maintained his inappropri­ate sexual desires”.

He was accused of three counts of sexual assault against two women but denied the allegation­s, insisting he had been nothing but kind to the alleged

‘Mr Evans is a leopard that cannot change its spots. Despite his age, he was and remains a sexual predator’

victims. Lauren Sales, prosecutin­g, told the jury: “Mr Evans is a leopard that cannot change its spots. Despite his age, he was and remains a sexual predator.”

The court was told one of his victims was lonely and had been looking to make friends when he targeted her.

In July last year, she agreed to go for a meal at a pub with him, and later went back to his flat when he groped her.

Ms Sales told the court Evans had targeted both women because of their physical disabiliti­es and mental health

issues. She told the court that while his tactics had changed over the past 50 years, his criminal desires had remained the same.

“Being a man in your 80s, you realised you had to change your tactics,” she told the court.

“You went to the community centre and seized your opportunit­y.

“A lot of people would think that a man in his 80s wouldn’t have sexual desires, but it’s clear you maintained yours over the years.

“You identified an opportunit­y. You are not a young man chasing women in their 30s any more, you are an elderly man chasing vulnerable women.”

Evans has already been returned to prison for breaching the terms of his licence.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom