A registered sex offender has been jailed for 21 years after a series of attacks on young women which shook the student community in Selly Oak at the end of last year.
Elvis Sidaway, from Fountain Road, Edgbaston, preyed on lone young women as they made their way home in the early hours of the morning after work or a night out, often wearing what was described as a gorilla or ‘Yoda’ mask between 20 November and 29 January.
A series of sexual assaults were reported in the Selly Oak, Edgbaston and Quinton areas leaving residents fearful to be out after dark and young women were urged not to walk home alone. On each occasion the victim reported that they were grabbed and threatened, sometimes with a knife or another type of weapon.
Police patrols were immediately increased, both uniformed and plain clothed, and CCTV was trawled to identify the offender.
A blue Peugeot 207 was spotted on Dartmouth Road, Selly Oak in the early hours of the 4 February and checks led detectives to Sidaway, who matched the description given by his victims. After his vehicle was spotted in Selly Oak at the same time the next day, Sidaway was arrested and a search of his car revealed condoms and a black firelighter. At his address, officers found a craft knife, black gloves and another firelighter.
The 53-year-old paint mixer was charged with five counts of sexual assault by touching, for which he pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing. He pleaded not guilty to rape and three counts of possession of a knife for which he stood trial earlier this week.
The jury took just two and a half hours to find him guilty of all charges and he was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court today (Friday 14 July). He will also stay on the Sex Offender Register for life.
After the hearing Detective Sergeant Laura Harrison, from the force’s Public Protection Unit, said: “I am pleased with the sentencing today. Sidaway caused a whole community to question their safety. I hope this will reassure his victims and the wider student population that a dangerous man is no longer a threat to them.
“We worked in close partnership with the university and the local authority to ensure everyone was aware of the attacks and what we were doing to catch the offender, whilst making sure safety messages were being shared.
“We have since set up a stronger network of information sharing so that we can understand how best to communicate with the student population and work with them to keep them safe.”
A spokesperson for The University of Birmingham said: “The University of Birmingham would like to thank West Midlands Police for its work in this case. The University works very closely with West Midlands Police to keep our staff and students safe both on and off campus.
“Student and staff safety is of paramount importance to the University and we regularly review our wide range of safety measures and initiatives in consultation with the Police and other authorities.”
Source:: West Midlands Police News