‘Bermondsey Beast’ release unlikely despite appeal success
15:00 21 November 2012
PA Wire/Press Association Images
A multiple rapist who terrorised elderly women in Bermondsey has had his ‘whole life’ prison term reduced to 25 years after a Court of Appeal hearing.
But a judge maintained that Michael Roberts, 46, who was jailed in January, is unlikely to ever be released from custody.
Known as the ‘Bermondsey Beast’, he raped three victims - one aged 83 - and viciously attacked a fourth.
He evaded justice for 15 years but was captured after a cold case review by Scotland Yard.
Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge said the court was “not to be taken as implying” that Roberts was anything less than highly dangerous.
He added that “on the evidence before us at the moment it seems highly improbable that he will, after the expiry of 25 or 30 or more years, or indeed ever, be safe for release”.
He said: “It is regrettably possible to envisage, and there have been cases, where dreadful sexual assaults have been followed by murderous violence.
“The whole-life order is reserved for the most exceptional cases.
“Without suggesting that the court is prohibited from making a whole-life order unless the defendant is convicted of at least one murder, such an order will inevitably be a very rare event indeed.”
Meanwhile, the court refused to quash the whole-life order in the case of killer David Oakes, 51, of Canney Road, Steeple, who “sadistically tortured” his former partner before shooting her and their two-year-old daughter.
The panel also upheld the 30-year minimum term imposed on Kiaran Stapleton, who was jailed for life after he shot Indian student Anuj Bidve, 23, at point-blank range in Salford, Greater Manchester.
The appellants are still subject to a life sentence. Those with a minimum term can apply for parole once that has expired, but they would not be released until they are deemed to no longer pose a threat to the public.
Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge said: “We should perhaps emphasise at the outset that each of these appellants is dangerous, and on the available evidence, likely to remain dangerous for the indefinite future.
“At present it is difficult to see how it will ever become safe for any of them to be released from custody.”