Watch as conman Sunderland rapist stages rooftop confrontation with police
This is the moment a rapist who almost walked free after "hoodwinking" authorities into believing he was in a near vegetative state blew his cover and staged a rooftop confrontation with police.
George Stephenson was found unfit to stand trial after he, with the help of his wife, convinced the police, courts, his legal team and even medical experts that he was unable to walk, talk, eat or perform the most basic tasks.
During interviews Stephenson, who was previously known as Nigel Whelan, repeatedly fell asleep, had a constant tremor, appeared unable to comprehend any allegations and would only use the words "Wendy" and "bye bye".
His wife Wendy Stephenson, 68, confirmed during multiple court hearings and interviews with medics and professionals that her husband needed 24-hour care, was confined to a wheelchair and could barely communicate or understand his surroundings.
The 60-year-old's performance was exposed as a scam when police, who had him under surveillance after a tip-off from his wife, who had joined in with some of his historical sexual offending, saw him walking around during a trip eating a burger at a service station.
Officers than watched in amazement as he scaled a drainpipe and climbed onto a roof in a bid to get away when they turned up at his home to arrest him.
Stephenson, of Midmoor Road, Ford Estate, Sunderland, eventually admitted perverting the course of justice and has now been convicted by a jury of 14 offences of rape he carried out in the 1980s.
He has been jailed for 26 years and four months.
His wife, of the same address, admitted perverting the course of justice and two charges of indecent assault.
She has been jailed for three years and 10 months.
Both have to sign the sex offenders' register for life.
Judge Tim Gittins told Stephenson: "You kept up a startlingly realistic pretence of being no more than a house bound invalid, confined to a wheelchair, unable to make intelligible utterances, unable to digest solid food or even look after your own toileting.
"So convincing was the performance, and by that I mean both of you, that two psychiatrists were taken in by it."
Judge Gittins said Stephenson "became more coherent the angrier he got" when he was eventually on trial and branded his behaviour an "utter sham".
The judge added: "The message needs to go out and will, I hope, go out to any perpetrators or potential perpetrators of abuse that there is no hiding place from the truth."
Prosecutor Anne Richardson told Newcastle Crown Court Stephenson put on an "Oscar winning performance", is a "complete fraud" and added: "He is a man who has manipulated and hoodwinked the system between March 2015 and July 2018.
"This was borne out of an investigation into his actions into the complainant's allegations.
"George Stephenson managed to convince the police officers and professional medical experts, psychiatrists, that he was of such impairment, his mental and physical ability were such that he was essentially unfit to have a trial on those matters.
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"Moreover, that he was unable to walk unaided, unable to talk properly and unable to eat normal, solid, meals.
"That led to psychiatrists preparing reports, which also led to the court concluding that George Stephenson was unfit to stand trial. "
Miss Richardson added: "Evidence became available that showed he was, in fact, able to walk unaided, could chat freely to people and was able to eat solid
food, such as a burger."
Miss Richardson added: "On 24th May 2018 a series of videos were recorded which show the Stephensons walking to and from their camper van, George Stephenson carrying a plastic water barrel and placing it in the campervan, filling up a petrol can from a petrol station, using the tyre compression equipment and bending down to put air in the vehicle's tyres and attending Burger King in Wetherby services.
"Still photographs taken show George Stephenson eating his food obtained from Burger King, with his feet raised on the dashboard of the moving campervan.
"Police officers observed him driving the campervan a short distance from one part of a car park to another, although this was not recorded, but a print was taken from an ANPR camera in the Leeds area."
When police turned up at Stephenson's home to arrest him, he got onto a shed roof and got into a stand-off with officers.
Miss Richardson said: "He climbed up onto a shed roof, physically pushing away a much younger detective, who continually told him to calm down and showed him his warrant card.
"Stephenson picked up a piece of rotten wood and waved it at the detective's direction, before hitting himself over the head with it and banging it on the shed roof."
Footage was taken by police during the shocking rooftop confrontation and played in court.
Miss Richardson said: "The footage shows an incoherent bumbling rambling man at the beginning, moving to an articulate verbally abusive man smoking a cigarette at about 35 mins into the recording, and finally an aggressive man who threatens the police officer with some wood and hits himself over the head with it."
Miss Richardson told the court: "George Stephenson was, as the crown submits, falsely trying to portray himself as a monosyllabic near vegetable.
"There can be very few more aerials manipulations of the court system, considerable court time and public money was wasted.
"However, this pales into insignificance compared to rheumatoid harm this manipulation has caused to the complainant."
Alasdair Campbell, defending Stephenson, said the rapist has written a letter of apology to the court which includes the words "I am very, very sorry for it all" and "I know I have to be punished for what I've done".
Tony Hawks, defending Wendy Stephenson, said she lives an isolated existence, without friends or support, and added: "She is going to have to live with the shame for the rest of her life."
Mr Hawks said Mrs Stephenson was a victim of controlling and coercive behaviour by her husband and that it was her actions who helped bring him to justice in the end.
Mr Hawks said: "If she hadn't given instructions last year, there was every possibility the man in the dock would never have been brought to justice."