Rapist speaks out after caravan move

A RAPIST who parked his mobile home outside a women's public toilet for three weeks admitted yesterday it “wasn't the best” decision.

Brad Jones

A RAPIST who parked his mobile home outside a women's public toilet for three weeks admitted yesterday it “wasn't the best” decision.

Robert Johnson, 43, who served seven years in jail for the horrific rape of a woman near Ipswich in 1991, argued there had been nothing sinister about his presence outside the public lavatories in Long Melford.

He insisted he had only been there to “make a point” to Babergh District Council, saying he wanted the authority to find him a home.

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Sex offender Mr Johnson claimed: “It was nothing to do with the public toilets. The reason I was there is because it was on Babergh's bit of land. I was trying to make a point.

“It was not because I was looking out for women going in. It was because I had nowhere to go.”

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He admitted: “I know it wasn't the best place to be. I am fully aware of that. I can see the public's side of things.”

Long Melford Parish Council had threatened to evict Mr Johnson after he moved his caravan close to the entrance to the public toilets near the village green. He had previously stayed at a number of locations in the Sudbury area.

Villagers were said to be frightened and intimidated by his presence, with many women avoiding the area.

However, after details of his presence there and rape conviction were revealed in the media, his caravan was attacked with a brick on Sunday night. He called police and his caravan was towed to Wickham Market by a marked police vehicle.

Mr Johnson, a traveller, said: “It was their [the police's] idea. They said the best thing to do is move off. I said, 'my mother lives in Wickham Market' so I went there.”

The landscape gardener moved into the car park of a doctor's surgery, but he then went to a relative in Bramford and finally to Waldingfield.

However, he wants to return to Long Melford so he can continue to tend the grave of two relatives - Rodney Smith, 11, and brother Ben, 3 - who died in a blaze at the West Meadows travellers site in Ipswich in 2005.

Mr Johnson, who argued yesterday he was not a danger to women, was jailed for nine years in 1992 for brutally raping a 23-year-old woman at knifepoint in Witnesham, near Ipswich.

A court heard how he lured his victim to an isolated barn by placing an advert at a JobCentre for a made-up horse groom position.

Ipswich Crown Court was told how he produced a pair of red knickers and a pornographic magazine, before raping the victim with a knife at her throat and then laughing before leaving the area.

Judge John Turner described it as a “really terrible rape” as he sentenced him.

Last night, a Babergh District Council spokesman said: “As one of a number of public bodies involved with the case of Mr Johnson, Babergh District Council has been working very hard to find him somewhere permanent to live.

“This has taken some time because any final decision as to an appropriate home for Mr Johnson has always been subject to approval by MAPPA (Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements).

“It is only in the last few weeks that this has been obtained in a location away from the village of Long Melford.”

Mr Johnson said he had been offered a property in Hadleigh but turned it down because there was no room for his caravan.

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