Ron Evans will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on Thursday. Killer known as ‘Clifton rapist’, 82, sexually assaulted woman after release. Ron Evans, who spent more than 50 years in prison, assaulted woman he befriended at drop-in centre after he was freed in 2018

A killer and rapist who spent more than half a century in prison before being released by the Parole Board has been convicted of carrying out a further sexual assault at the age of 81.

Ron Evans, who killed a young woman in the 1960s and in the 1970s was called the “Clifton rapist” for a series of attacks in Bristol, was found guilty by a jury on Monday of assaulting a woman he had befriended at a drop-in centre.

Questions are being raised about why Evans was released and the effectiveness of his monitoring. He revealed in court that he had not told his probation officer he was volunteering at a centre that vulnerable women attended.

Evans was convicted in 1964 for the rape and murder of Kathleen Heathcote, a 21-year-old shop worker who vanished from her home in Nottinghamshire. He was jailed for life but served only 11 years before being released on licence, and moved to Bristol.

During an 18-month period from the summer of 1977, seven women were sexually assaulted in the Clifton, Redland and Westbury Park areas of the city.

In January 1979 police launched an undercover operation in which young female officers wearing plainclothes and male officers dressed up as women were sent out on to the streets to try to draw the attacker out.

On the last night of the operation, an officer called Michelle Leonard was grabbed by a man who told her: “Don’t scream or I’ll kill you,” and started to drag her into a garden. Leonard pushed him away and the man was caught by a colleague. It turned out to be Evans, who admitted five attacks and was sent back to prison.

Even at that time there was concern he had been released after the murder of Kathleen Heathcote. “Life should mean life,” Leonard said in the ITV News film Decoy, which told the story of his capture.

In 2004, while still in jail, a cold case team linked him forensically with two other attacks in Bristol that he had denied and a judge said it was likely he would never be released.

But Evans was freed in 2018 and began to work as a volunteer at a centre in London. During his trial at a London crown court, it was alleged that over a three-year period he sexually assaulted two vulnerable women, both with disabilities.

The jury heard he was convicted of sexual offences in the 1970s and had spent many years in prison but did not hear he was the Clifton rapist and a convicted killer.

Custody picture of Ron Evans.

Custody picture of Ron Evans.

Evans told the court he was a reformed character and had “a lot of remorse” over his previous offending. Evans, now 82, was found guilty of one sexual assault against one woman and cleared of two others against a second. He will be sentenced on Thursday at the Old Bailey.

The campaign group Women Against Rape expressed concern over the case. It said: “Despite being identified as a serial attacker by the police and courts, Evans has been repeatedly released and enabled to attack other women. Why do women’s lives and safety count for so little?”

A spokesperson for the Parole Board said: “A panel directed the release of Ronald Evans following an oral hearing in 2018. Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.”

Steven Morris @stevenmorris20

Mon 13 Nov 2023 17.24 GMT