School disco rapist facing life sentence

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SNEERING sex beast Stephen Crawford is facing another life sentence today after he was convicted of raping a schoolgirl as she walked home from a disco 30 years ago.

The 49-year-old serial sex attacker, currently serving four life sentences, denied the charge but jurors convicted him of rape after just 90 minutes.

Crawford had claimed his victim was a “total stranger” and denied having any sexual contact with her.

The woman said she had kept quiet about her ordeal for 30 years before plucking up the courage to report what had happened to her.

Today, the Echo can reveal the shocking catalogue of offences committed by Crawford during the past three decades.

In 1985, he was accused of raping a 15-year-old girl in Washington. He admitted unlawful sex and the rape charge was dropped.

In 1994, he was jailed for 21 months for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old.

In April 1999, Crawford got a suspended sentence after he attacked a 15-year-old girl in the cab of his car transporter after driving her to a lane in Gateshead.

He had also been convicted of failing to comply with the requirements of the sex offenders’ register twice.

During a trial in 2007, three victims, who were strangers to each other, gave evidence before the same jury.

The court heard how Crawford stalked the streets posing at a taxi driver looking for lone females to pick up and attack.

He offered lifts to three women who had become separated from their pals during nights out.

Crawford, originally from Washington, but now serving his sentence in prison for the previous rapes, admitted to the jury he offered lifts to the women but said they consented to sexual activity.

He claimed to the jurors that the women seemed to “enjoy” what happened and insisted they consented to sex.

But after hearing evidence from his sobbing victims, jurors found him guilty.

In September 2005, a woman on a night out in Durham city became separated from her friends.

After accepting a lift from Crawford, who had asked her if she needed a taxi, she was driven to his home and said she was indecently assaulted.

In September 2006, a 17-year-old was making her way home after a night out in Sunderland and became separated from friends in the Barnes area.

She accepted a lift from Crawford but realised she was in danger when he drove past the turn-off to her home. During a five-hour ordeal, Crawford drove her to isolated spots where she claimed he sexually assaulted her.

She told jurors: “I was thinking he was going to kill me or just throw me out of the car in the middle of nowhere or he was going to rape me.”

Crawford’s last victim was targeted 12 days later. The 17-year-old became separated from friends during a night out in Newcastle and accepted a lift from him.

The court heard how after driving to North Tyneside Crawford raped the teenager as she repeatedly told him “no”.

The victim told jurors she had resorted to showing Crawford pictures of her family on her mobile phone and begging him to look at their faces to imagine how they would suffer if he killed her.

Twitter: @sunderlandecho