Rapist-murderer Mark Shirley set to die in jail as judge hands him 16 life sentences

 

A convicted murderer and rapist was told by a judge today that he will probably die in prison after being convicted of another knifepoint sex attack.

Mr Justice Astill handed Kenneth Mark Shirley another 16 life sentences on top of the seven he is already serving.

Shirley, 42, was found guilty of four rapes, 12 assaults by penetration and a single charge of wounding by a jury at Bristol Crown Court.

The judge told Shirley, who is known by his middle name, he would serve a minimum term of 16 years imprisonment but would probably never be released.

The judge said: "Kenneth Mark Shirley, 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."

The judge said details of this offence and Shirley's previous convictions meant the Sentencing Council guidelines should be exceeded.

"Kenneth Mark Shirley, you subjected this woman to a series of violent and sadistic sexual assaults over a period of 12 hours or more, having broken into her home knowing that she would be alone," he said.

"Your violence, threats and sexual depravity reduced her to such a state of terror at the prospect of your returning to kill her in accordance with your threat if she told anyone.

"For many years she was unable to disclose her suffering at your hands to anyone. The result has been, and is obvious to all that saw and heard her, that her mental health has deteriorated to such an extent that she could no longer function as the intelligent, capable young woman that she once was.

"You have ruined her life. She has paid the price for your perverted pleasure, hardly to be imagined by balanced and reasonable minds."

Shirley tied the woman to her bed, gagged her and repeatedly degraded her with a knife and other objects during a 12-hour assault.

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

Shirley is already serving six life sentences imposed for the near-identical sex attack on Bristol woman Helen Stockford in 2009. She gave up her anonymity in 2009, when he was convicted of raping her.

He was only free walking the streets because 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.

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

The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, sat in the upstairs public gallery of court room two to see the verdicts returned.

Sitting just a few feet away was Mrs Stockford, who has been present in the public gallery for the whole trial.

Mary Wainwright had been stabbed, sexually assaulted and Shirley had left an ornamental paper knife and 2p coin on the body.

During the two sex attacks Shirley repeatedly made reference to the murder of the pensioner, referring to the women as "Mary" and talking about "pretty knives" and 2p coins.

In the attack on the woman in 2005 she overheard him singing the nursery rhyme Mary, Mary Quite Contrary.

Nicola Merrick, for Shirley, offered no personal mitigation on his behalf but added: "He is still a relative young man and reality is that he is very unlikely to be released and if he is released he will be of a very advanced age."

Detective Inspector Jill Kells, of Avon and Somerset Police, praised the bravery of the victim in telling police what Shirley had done to her.

"It took great courage and bravery to come forward and tell us what had happened, and it took months for her to be able to fully disclose information about the horrific ordeal she had endured at the hands of Mark Shirley," the detective said.

"This 12-hour attack left her living in fear for a number of years which in turn affected her health and well-being.

"Today the jury found him guilty of those offences and he was given an additional 16 life sentences.

"Kenneth Mark Shirley is a dangerous man who has previous convictions for murder, rape, kidnap and sexual assault.

"His further sentence means the public are protected from this predatory and violent individual.

"The victim endured one of the most traumatic of crimes. I would like to thank her for the courage she has shown in this investigation and in giving evidence."

Ms Kells urged any person who has been the victim of a sex crime - whether historic or recent - to tell the police.

"Anyone who has been a victim of rape and sexual assault both recently and in the past can have confidence in reporting the matter to the police," she said.

"It will be fully investigated and offenders where possible will be brought before the courts."

PA

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