Convicted murderer Kenneth Shirley jailed for sex attack

Kenneth Shirley
Image caption The judge said Shirley would probably never be released from jail

A murderer and rapist has been given a total of 23 life terms, following new sentences for a sex attack on a woman in her home.

Kenneth Shirley, 42, tied the woman to her bed, gagged her and attacked her with a knife and other objects.

The woman was left so traumatised by the attack in December 2005 that she did not tell police until last year.

Sentencing Shirley to 16 new life sentences, the judge said he would probably never be released from jail.

Mr Justice Astill said: "You must appreciate that the nature of these offences, and the murder and rape convictions that went before them, may well result - and probably should result - in you remaining in custody for the remainder of your life."

Shirley, known by his middle name Mark, is already serving six life sentences imposed for the near-identical sex attack on Helen Stockford in Bristol in 2009.

He had been released on licence from prison in 2003 after serving 16 years of a life sentence for the ritualistic murder of Mary Wainwright, 67, in Cardiff in 1987.

The authorities recalled him in June 2004 but he was released again the following October.

Shirley was recalled to prison in January 2007 for again breaching the terms of his parole.

In September 2008 he was released on licence for a third time.

Jurors at Bristol Crown Court took six hours to find Shirley unanimously guilty of four charges of rape, 12 of sexual assault and a single allegation of wounding. The crimes took place between December 7 and 12, 2005.

The judge told him he would serve a minimum term of 16 years - but would probably never be released.

'Brutal and prolonged'

During Shirley trial at Bristol Crown Court, jurors were told of "peculiar hallmarks" of his behaviour, which linked the murder and the 2009 rape to the offences for which he has now been convicted.

Prosecutors say it was "beyond the realms of coincidence that a different man could have committed such similar offences in such a distinctive way".

William Mousley QC told the court that the woman was the victim of a "brutal and prolonged sexual attack" at the hands of Shirley.

He said the attack was "devastating" for the woman and she has been forced to give up her career and been admitted to a psychiatric unit.

Image caption Helen Stockford was attacked by Shirley in 2009

Three weeks before the attack, the woman and her housemate had been out drinking in the Waterfront area of Bristol when they met a man called Mark.

The victim described in detail to Mark where she lived but the conversation turned sour later and she swore at him before leaving.

Three weeks later, a white van pulled up outside her house and a man in a balaclava came into the house through an unlocked door.

He pinned her down and when he took off his balaclava he said: "You recognise me now then... you're going to suffer now."

The woman first confided in a psychologist and finally gave a written statement to police in May 2011. She later picked Shirley out at an identity parade.

Shirley offered no evidence in defence.

Helen Stockford, from Southmead, Bristol, gave up her anonymity when Shirley was jailed for life for attacking her in her home in 2009.

Since then she has battled to ensure that Shirley is never released from prison.

"The main reason at the time for my campaign was because of the fear of him coming out through parole again and killing me," she said.

Following his latest sentencing, Mrs Stockford said she had finally got justice.

"Mistakes have been made all along the way with the handling of Shirley," she said.

"I believe the justice system in this country needs a complete overhaul, particularly with respect to victims of rape and that's what I've been campaigning for, for three long years.

"My last word goes to the current victim, as I want her to know I understand why she didn't come forward as, like me, he said he would come back and kill her.

"I want her to know that, like Mary [Wainwright], she's close to my heart."

The Avon and Somerset Probation Trust said a full investigation had been carried out into the management of the most recent case.

It said: "The Probation Trust extends its sympathy and admiration for the victim in this case who has shown great courage in coming forward and ensuring that justice has been achieved.

"Avon and Somerset Probation Trust managed this case correctly but unfortunately it is never possible to fully eliminate risk where an offender is intent on causing harm.

"The person solely responsible for these horrendous crimes is Kenneth Mark Shirley."

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