Former nurse given life for sex attacks on retarded women: Kidnapper to be questioned again about death of Down's syndrome sufferer

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The Independent Online
A FORMER psychiatric nurse who targeted mentally retarded women for sex attacks was sentenced to nine concurrent terms of life imprisonment yesterday.

Michael Fox, 50, had admitted five charges of kidnap, three of rape and one of attempted rape. He had also asked for three kidnaps, three attempted kidnaps, two indecent assaults and one attempted rape to be taken into consideration.

Mr Justice Ognall, sentencing Fox at the Old Bailey, said: 'Your behaviour would cause a sense of revulsion in any right thinking person.' He recommended that Fox should serve at least 12 years before being eligible for parole.

It later emerged that police plan to question Fox again over the death of the 21-year-old Down's syndrome sufferer Jo Ramsden, who was found dead after vanishing from her home town of Bridport, Dorset, in April 1991. Fox was charged with kidnapping Miss Ramsden, but the case was dismissed at a pre-trial hearing because of insufficient evidence.

Fox, from Charminster, Dorset, was jailed after psychiatric reports suggested an order confining him to a mental hospital would not be appropriate. The judge told him: 'The final psychiatric reports upon you suggest that even if you are suffering from any form of mental disorder, your condition does not warrant your detention in a mental hospital.'

The judge said he believed Fox represented 'a serious risk of serious harm' to women - especially mentally handicapped women. Fox showed no emotion as sentence was being passed.

After the hearing, Detective Chief Superintendent Des Donohoe, head of Dorset CID, said: 'The judge decided that he was bad, not mad, and he got it spot on. He is an extraordinarily dangerous man who took advantage of inadequate women . . . and I think the sentence reflected this.'

Fox carried out the series of sex attacks in Dorset between June 1988 and December 1991. An earlier hearing at Winchester Crown Court was told the admitted offences concerned five women, three in Weymouth and two at Herrison House hospital near Dorchester, where Fox was employed before being retired on medical grounds.

Jo Ramsden, who had a mental age of 10, disappeared after leaving a leisure centre. Her body was found almost a year later 12 miles away. Pathologists could not establish the cause of her death.

All Fox's victims were snatched and taken to isolated spots where they were attacked and abandoned.

Neil Butterfield, for the defence, said Fox had been abused as a child. Doctors agreed that this had played a 'considerable part' in the offences. Mr Butterfield said there were none of the aggravating features often associated with serial rape. No weapons were used, there was no sadism and none of the victims suffered serious injury.

Two Broadmoor doctors were criticised by Mr Justice Ognall for producing medical reports on Fox without seeing prosecution evidence first. Chief Supt Donohoe later confirmed that initially the doctors had recommended sending Fox to hospital.

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