‘The Laughing Rapist’ may have attacked more women

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A SERIAL sex attacker dubbed the Laughing Rapist may have attacked many more victims, a Sunderland women’s support organisation warned today.

Clare Phillipson, director of Wearside Women in Need, was speaking after prolific offender Stephen Crawford, already serving five life sentences for sex assaults, was jailed for five years for the attempted rape of a 17-year-old.

Ms Phillipson said: “We are confident there are many more rape victims in the Washington and surrounding area who have not come forward following an encounter with Stephen Crawford.

“He is a prime example of what is wrong with the prosecution of rape in this country. He was a serial offender who was allowed to rape time and time again.”

Crawford, 51, was given the nickname ‘the laughing rapist’ because of the sneering smirk he gave each time he was cleared of rape charges in relation to five more women during the early 2000s.

Justice finally caught up with the former mobile disc jockey, from Washington, when he was given a total of five life sentences for sex attacks on women in 2007 and 2012.

He had also served sentences for sex offences against women and children in the 1990s.

Crawford’s convictions include rapes, indecent assault and sex with underage girls.

The attacker, who a judge once said “enjoyed the act of rape” was finally tried last week for the attack at Penshaw three decades ago.

The court was told he offered his victim a lift home from a pub in Washington in 1984 – but instead of driving her home, Crawford tried to rape her.

Ms Phillipson said: “This is a man who would get himself jobs which specifically brought him into contact with women including being a DJ, a carpet fitter and a taxi driver.

“I would like to encourage any other victims to come forward and speak to the police.”

Crawford had denied attempted rape during last week’s trial, which lasted three days.

Speaking after the case, the victim told the Echo: “It makes me angry to think he went on to do this over and over again, in many ways I was the lucky one. I was feisty enough to fight back, to fight him off.

“We have to keep him behind bars where he belongs, he’s a danger to women.

“When I think about the women he raped, it makes me so angry.

“If only people had taken notice if what happened to me.

“It’s truly frightening the scale of what he’s done and the fact he was able to do it time and time again.”