Published: 00:01, 12 November 2014
A sex attacker who preyed on women in Ashford has had a bid to overturn his life sentence thrown out by top judges.
John Williams, 48, attacked 23 female victims, mostly close to his own home in Essetford Road as they walked in secluded wooded areas, committing a variety of sex crimes.
Williams was jailed for life at Canterbury Crown Court on May 26 with a seven-year minimum term to be served.
He earlier pleaded guilty to three assaults by penetration, seven sexual assaults, an indecent assault, an attempted assault by penetration and a theft.
He also asked for a raft of other sex crimes and offences of dishonesty to be taken into account.
Lord Justice McCombe, Mr Justice MacDuff and Judge Anthony Morris QC, sitting at London's Criminal Appeal, today heard the "dangerous" sex beast's lawyers argue that he ought not to have been jailed for life.
They insisted that he is "showing real signs of reform."
The court heard the bulk of Williams' attacks took place close to his home over a 12-month period.
"Williams is a dangerous offender and, in the judgment of the Crown Court judge, only a life sentence would suffice. We cannot fault her judgement in any way" - Mr Justice MacDuff
Mr Justice MacDuff said: "Williams carried out a campaign of sex attacks on girls and women between the ages of 16 and 50, mostly walking alone on footpaths in wooded areas.
The judge said Williams's modus operandi was to approach women from behind and put his hand over their mouths before molesting them.
Oliver Saxby QC, for Williams, asked for the life term to be lifted and replaced with a fixed term of imprisonment with a period of extended licence.
He described Williams, who appeared in the dock for the appeal hearing, as "somebody who is showing real signs of reform, or at least an ability to reform."
The barrister said "headway had been made" since Williams was put away.
But Mr Justice MacDuff dismissed his appeal, saying: "These attacks clearly posed a huge level of danger, potentially to any member of the public.
"There is no reliable estimate of the length of time he will remain a danger.
"We have the assessment of a consultant psychiatrist, asserting that he is beginning to get to grips with his behaviour and that there is some future hope.
"But within the life term is a minimum period, after which the Parole Board is empowered to consider whether Williams is safe for release.
"It is at that point, not now, that some sort of reliable estimate may be made as to his level of dangerousness.
"Williams is a dangerous offender and, in the judgment of the Crown Court judge, only a life sentence would suffice.
"We cannot fault her judgement in any way - this sentence was not wrong in principle nor was this sentence manifestly excessive.
"His offending was so serious that only a sentence of life imprisonment can provide the proper level of protection for the public," the appeal judge concluded.
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