A sex offender who preyed on young women in Selly Oak wearing a gorilla mask has been handed a lengthy jail sentence by Birmingham Crown Court today (Friday 14th July).
Elvis Sidaway, 53 – a registered sex offender from Edgbaston – was jailed for 21 years and will remain on the Sex Offender Register for life.
Sidaway terrorised the student community, targeting lone young women on their way home in the early hours of the morning, while wearing a gorilla or ‘Yoda’ mask between November 2016 and January 2017.
West Midlands Police increased patrols in the area, checked CCTV images, and urged women to be vigilant and not to walk alone in the dark after a series of sexual assaults were reported in the Selly Oak, Edgbaston and Quinton areas.
Victims reported being grabbed and threatened with a knife or other weapons – including firelighters – by the masked attacker before being sexually assaulted.
In the early hours of 4th February, police spotted a blue Peugeot 207 in Dartmouth Road, Selly Oak. Vehicle checks led detectives to Sidaway, who matched descriptions given by victims.
The vehicle was spotted again in Selly Oak twenty-four hours later and Sidaway was arrested. A search of his car revealed condoms and a black firelighter. A search of his home address uncovered more evidence: a craft knife, black gloves and another firelighter.
Sidaway, a paint mixer, pleaded guilty to 5 counts of sexual assault by touching at an earlier hearing. This week’s trial saw him face further charges to which he pleaded not guilty – rape and 3 counts of possession of a knife.
However, a jury took just two and a half hours to find him guilty of all charges.
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.”
DS Harrison said that West Midlands Police had worked closely with The University of Birmingham and Birmingham City Council to catch the offender and share safety messages to students and other young women in the area.
She said: “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.”