Open prison inmate handed second life sentence for knifepoint sex attack

Nicky Suddons
Nicky Suddons

An open prison inmate who carried out a terrifying knifepoint sex attack after he was ruled safe enough to work in the community has been given a second life sentence.

Nicky Suddons, 26, was branded as highly dangerous when he was originally jailed for seven sex attacks on women and girls in Manchester carried out during a two month reign of terror back in 2004.

But after being allowed out of North Sea Camp open jail, near Boston, to work as part of his preparation for release he made his way to a park in Grantham during an unsupervised lunch break and carried out a serious sex attack on a middle-aged woman out walking her dog.

His case sparked a review of the prisoner day release scheme by the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling after he described the incident as ‘a truly horrifying case’.

Judge Sean Morris gave him a life sentence on Monday and ordered he serve a minimum of six years.

The Judge told him: “I stress that is the minimum term you will serve. I strongly suspect that the lesson in your case has been learned and it will be many years, if not decades, and it may be never when it comes to considering your release.

“You are an extremely dangerous human being. I am convinced you will sexually assault and rape women in the future if you are released.

“In this case your victim has been severely traumatised. She has not been able to return to work. She has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. She cannot now go out of her house without the dog and without a rape alarm. That is severe psychological harm.”

Suddons, a former lifeguard, who was nicknamed the Yellow Brick Road rapist after the area of Manchester where he carried out his original attacks, later confessed saying he regarded himself as ‘untouchable’.

He was given a life sentence for the 2004 offences but by the Spring of last year he was deemed safe to be let out of North Sea Camp to carry out painting and decorating work in Grantham as part of preparations for his release on parole. By that time he has completed a sex offender treatment programme designed to deter him from committing further sex attacks.

Under the day release arrangement Suddons slept each night at the prison but was allowed out during the day to carry out his work placement.

A jury heard how Suddons collected together a ‘rape kit’ including a balaclava, rubber gloves, condoms and a Stanley knife and went on to attempt to rape a middle-aged woman after disappearing from his work placement over his lunch hour.

David Outterside, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court that Suddons left his work renovating an old property for a church during his break and made his way to Queen Elizabeth Park where he lay in wait for a victim.

He changed his clothes and moments later confronted the woman as she walked her pet Labrador through a wooded area.

The woman told the jury how she turned round to find herself face to face with a masked man brandishing a knife.

She fell to the ground and screamed while her dog barked.

Suddons stood over her and warned “Don’t scream”.

She told the jury: “My eyes were fixed on the knife and the mask. His thumb was on the Stanley knife as if the blade was ready to be flicked.”

Suddons backed off as the dog lunged at him and then fled.

A fellow dog walker and a cyclist taking a short cut through the park on his way back to work went to her aid. The cyclist stopped Suddons as he headed for the park exit and brought him back to the scene where he was arrested.

Mr Outterside said that Suddons carefully planned the attack and hoped his rape kit would help him avoid the mistakes he made which led to his arrest for the 2004 offences. He said the gloves and condom were to ensure Suddons deposited no DNA and the balaclava was to hide his identity.

“What was on his mind was rape. This time he was prepared and was absolutely determined not to be caught. He thought he could get clean away with it but he was caught red-handed.”

Suddons , who is originally from Abbey Hey, Manchester, denied attempt rape on 28 June 2013 but the jury took less than an hour to convict him. He admitted attacking the woman but denied any sexual intent.

Suddons, in evidence, admitted that the last time he had sex was the occasion when he raped a 28 year old woman in East Manchester back in 2004.

He told the jury: “That was the last time I had sex.

“I think about sex the same as every bloke. I don’t think about it all the time. Not daily.”

He was asked about the 2004 sex attacks and told the jury: “I just did it for sexual gratification. The reason I carried on was because I was getting away with it. I thought I was untouchable. I continued until I was eventually caught.”

Suddons received his life sentence at Manchester Crown Court in September 2005 when he admitted one rape and six sexual assaults on victims aged between 13 and 28. Several of the attacks were at knife point taking place in a local park and in an area close to a canal.

He was arrested after his DNA was found on the rape victim. Suddons was ordered to serve a minimum of just four years because he was a juvenile aged 17 when he committed the offences which meant the judge had to half the sentence he would have given to an adult.

The judge who sentenced Suddons at Manchester described him as ‘a highly dangerous young man’ and said he had an “extremely high risk of reoffending”.

Following Suddons’ conviction in December, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling asked his officials to review how the scheme was working across the country and for the Chief Inspector of Prisons to look into how temporary release was granted in three other cases last year.

At the time Justice Secretary Chris Grayling admitted: “This is a truly horrifying case and one that needs to be investigated thoroughly.”

Last month it was announced that day release from prison is to be scaled back following a series of serious crimes committed by offenders temporarily out of jail.

Tighter rules about who is eligible for the scheme are to be introduced, while prisoners will only be allowed out for a specific purpose, such as gaining work experience, the Ministry of Justice said.

Day-release prisoners will also have to wear electronic tags, once technology is made available, the department added.

For prisoners with a history of serious crimes, there will be a new “restricted” level where they will undergo stringent risk assessments by probation and other professionals.

The incident involving Suddons was the second high profile case involving an life sentence inmate from North Sea Camp on work placement.

In October 2012 Lee Cyrus went on the run after being let out on day release for work.

He was only arrested after going on a crime spree and was subsequently convicted following a jury trial of five counts of exposure, wounding with intent, unlawful wounding, affray, aggravated burglary, robbery and burglary.

He was jailed at Southwark Crown Court in December when he received a new life sentence and was ordered to serve a minimum of 11 years.