Rape victim fears serial sex offender could move back to Sunderland

A woman who helped snare the serial sex attacker who raped her has spoken of her fears he could return to Sunderland on his release.

Monday, 29th January 2018, 1:00 pm
Kevin Lakeman

Kevin Lakeman was jailed in 1995 after he became one of the first offenders to be caught and convicted using DNA evidence, with his crimes committed over a 13-year period.

Then aged 31 and living in Ribble Road, Red House, he was locked up with the recommendation his sentence could only be reviewed after a minimum of 12 years.

A photo taken in 1995 of Sunderland Civic Centre Car Park as the Kevin Lakeman trial was held in Leeds.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

He was convicted at Newcastle Crown Court of three rapes and an attempted rape dating back to December 1981, with a life sentence for each one.

Now, 23 years on, he could be back on Wearside after the Parole Board decided he can be released.

One of his victims has spoken out after she received a letter telling her he is due to be freed, with a date scheduled for next month.

She was attacked in the early hours of New Year’s Day 1994 as she headed home from a city centre nightclub.

Mowbray Park, pictured in 1995, which was one of the locations where Kevin Lakeman struck during his campaign of sex attacks on women in the city.

Grabbed from behind and threatened with a knife, her ordeal lasted hours as he attacked her in locations including Mowbray Park.

It came to an end when Lakeman left her in the stairwell of the Civic Centre public car park and she called for help from two passing students who helped her reach her mother’s home.

She does not believe Lakeman should ever be allowed out and fears she could come face-to-face with him if he comes back to live on Wearside.

A map has been drawn up listing areas where he cannot go, including where the woman lives, which means she fears he will know where she - and his other victims - now live.

The gates of Mowbray Park in 1995, as the Echo covered the case of Kevin Lakeman.

She said: “I know some people deserve a second chance, but some will always be dangerous and you can see from his history he is a dangerous man.

“He’s been inside for 23 years, now he’s in his 60s, and when he comes out, he won’t know any different.

“If he offends again, he goes back to where he knows, with a roof over his head and everything provided for him, he’s got nothing to lose.

“The fact is I could go out and he could be there.

A photo taken in 1995 of Sunderland Civic Centre Car Park as the Kevin Lakeman trial was held in Leeds.

“He knew what I looked like and I’ve not really changed.

“They won’t tell me where he’s going to be released to, and yet he’s been given an exclusion zone around where I live.”

The woman says the attack has continued to overshadow her life.

“Everyone says I’m strong, but I’m not inside,” she added.

“It’s ruined my work life, I can’t hold jobs down, it’s ruined relationships, it’s had an impact on everything.”

A spokesman for the Parole Board said: “We can confirm that a three-member panel of the Parole Board has directed the release of Kevin Lakeman, following an oral hearing in December 2017.

Mowbray Park, pictured in 1995, which was one of the locations where Kevin Lakeman struck during his campaign of sex attacks on women in the city.

“The decision to release is a matter for the Parole Board, which is independent.

“Once the Parole Board has directed the release of a prisoner, it is a matter for the Ministry of Justice to make the arrangements.”

The gates of Mowbray Park in 1995, as the Echo covered the case of Kevin Lakeman.