Rapist in prison at long last

Simon Murcott
Simon Murcott
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A RAPIST who threatened to slash his victim with a razor blade in a South Yorkshire bus shelter 26 years ago has finally been brought to justice - and locked up for life.

Simon Murcott’s jail term brings to 110 years the total sentences handed down so far to violent criminals caught by South Yorkshire Police’s ‘cold case review team’ decades on from their offences.

Eleven men are now behind bars for crimes including 10 rapes and a murder, stretching back to 1977.

Murcott, now 46, was branded “dangerous” and “every woman’s nightmare” by Judge Simon Lawler QC at Sheffield Crown Court.

As a tattooed fairground worker of 20, Murcott dragged his victim into a bus shelter and raped her in 1985.

“To attack an unknown woman at night must be every woman’s nightmare, particularly when she was under threat of being killed,” Judge Lawler said.

His victim - 31 at the time - was so traumatised she later attempted suicide.

Murcott married and emigrated to New Zealand, where he tried to commit another rape in ‘remarkably similar’ circumstances in 1991.

His second victim was a 17-year-old walking home at night whom he grabbed, dragged to waste ground, and tried to rape while telling her he would kill her.

Murcott was jailed for two years in New Zealand, and later deported to the UK.

He was arrested in Liverpool in 2009, after advances in DNA techniques led South Yorkshire Police to re-open the 1985 rape file.

The judge praised detectives’ ‘painstaking work and persistence’ in tracking down the New Zealand victim, who agreed to fly to England and testify at court in South Yorkshire.

Murcott admitted the 1985 attack a week before trial last February - but the case was adjourned for 20 months while psychiatrists decided whether he should serve his sentence in a mental hospital or prison.

Sarah Wright, prosecuting, said on November 21, 1985, his victim had gone out in her slippers to a phone box on Doncaster Road, Eastwood, Rotherham, where she was grabbed by Murcott who told her: “Don’t move, don’t scream, or I will slash you.”

The woman described him as ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ - calm one minute, grabbing her the next.

She noticed he had a tattoo of his name and he told he worked on fairs, before he dragged her into a bus shelter on Mowbray Street and raping her.

In an emotional impact statement read to the court, his victim said before the rape she was happy - afterwards she was anxious, depressed, and felt dirty, and took an overdose the following year.

Murcott’s previous convictions included an assault on his ex-wife and two violent beatings, one of which left a man brain damaged.

He was described by a psychiatrist as suffering a “serious psychotic illness” and posing “a serious risk of harm for the foreseeable future”.

He must serve seven years before he can be considered for parole.

Afterwards, cold case review team Det Supt Richard Fewkes said: “This attack ruined the victim’s life. It is only now, and because of the conviction, she is starting to move forward.

“She had to endure 26 years not knowing who her attacker was.”