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Smirking Ashford sex predator John Williams jailed for life for string of attacks on women and girls in Kent

By Samantha Williams

An Ashford predator has been jailed for life today after admitting 14 sex attacks on women dating back more than 20 years - and warned he might never be released.

Smirking pervert John Williams, 47, pleaded guilty to 13 charges – and asked for another 16 to be considered, including another sex assault.

A judge said the "public horror and revulsion" at his crimes, which caused "terror" in all his victims, meant he might never leave prison.

John Williams was convicted of a string of sex attacks

His offences took place between November 1991 and August 2013 and involved nine victims.

Williams, of Essetford Road, South Ashford, was sentenced by Judge Adele Williams at Canterbury Crown Court this afternoon after psychiatric and probation reports.

He must serve at least seven years before he will be considered for parole.

It was today revealed Williams told a psychiatrist he was glad he had been caught - and was "disgusted" with himself.

Judge Williams told him: "You have carried out a terrifying campaign of sexual attacks. You are a sexual predator and a danger to women. You caused terror in all your victims."

The judge added she had read all the victims' statements and said they made "moving and harrowing reading".

She added: "I have no doubt your victims felt terror and have been deeply traumatised."

Sentencing him to life, Judge Williams said: "Such was the public horror and revulsion of your offences, this calls for a denunciatory sentence.

"The effect of my sentence is you may never be released."

Forensics officers in an area around Singleton Lake where one of the assaults took place

The court today heard an 18-year-old sexual assault victim - targeted near Singleton Lake in Ashford - was told by Williams: "If you scream, I'll rape you."

In a victim impact statement, one woman described how the attack changed her from a person "who would walk without fear, to a prisoner in her own home".

"You are a sexual predator and a danger to women. You caused terror in all your victims..." - Judge Adele Williams

When Williams approached one woman in 1994, he told her he had been offending for months.

He asked her what he should do to stop his offending and she replied that he should phone the Samaritans.

Prosecutor Peter Forbes said: "This was a campaign of sexual assaults against a number of girls and women ranging from 16 to 50 years old.

"Predominantly his victims were walking alone on footpaths in parks or wooded areas when they were attacked from behind and taken to the ground."

The prosecutor said between November 1991 and February 1992, the offences revolved around the theft or attempted thefts of handbags.

"Usually they were done on a lone woman walking in wooded areas during the hours of darkness - and some of the incidents were also sexual," he added.

Neighbours of John Williams in Essetford road, Ashford, were shocked at his offending

Described as a concrete batcher, Williams' job involved making cement in a machine.

At an earlier hearing, he answered "guilty" to each of the 13 main charges – which include groping breasts.

As the married father admitted his crimes, some of his victims – who sat with police officers in the public gallery – openly wept and were comforted by friends and family.

He was also asked if he wanted the judge to take another 16 offences – 15 of them thefts dating back to when he was in his mid 20s – into account and he replied: "I do."

Williams admitted offences including:

  • November 9, 2010 - sexual assault of an 18-year-old woman on a footpath between Bucksford Lane and Brookfield Road, at Singleton Lakes, Ashford
  • December 7, 2010 - sexual assault of a 20-year-old woman in Lodge Wood Drive, Ashford
  • November 18, 2011 - sexual assault of a 50-year-old woman in Tithe Barn Lane, Ashford
  • June 29, 2012 – two sexual assaults of a 16-year-old girl in woodland off Wesley School Road, Ashford
  • September, 6 2012 - sexual assault and attempt to commit sexual offence of a 47-year-old woman on a grass track off Britannia Lane, Ashford
  • July 8, 2013 – two sexual assaults of a 16-year-old girl in Tunbury Wood, off Woodbury Road, Chatham
  • August 2, 2013 – two sexual assaults of a 22-year-old woman on a woodland footpath near Bucksford Lane, at Singleton Lake, Ashford
  • December 10, 1991 - indecent assault and a handbag theft in Victoria Park, Ashford
DI Richard Vickery led the hunt for Ashford sex attacker John Williams

A huge manhunt was launched to catch Williams, with police releasing several efits and even screening men in the area for DNA.

After Williams admitted his guilt, DI Richard Vickery said: "We have got to this stage thanks to the great deal of help from local people, who have responded to our various appeals for information.

"Above all at this time our thoughts need to be with the victims of Williams' offences.

"These women have been put through very frightening ordeals and the evidence that they were able to provide has without doubt resulted in these guilty pleas."

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