Convicted rapist camped out in Trimley after going AWOL 200 miles away

Ipswich man Stephen Cooper has appeared in court charged with indecent exposure. Picture: SARAH LUC

Stevenson was arrested after being found in Trimley St Martin by Suffolk police - Credit: Archant

A convicted rapist and child abductor, wanted by police 200 miles away, was discovered to be staying in a tent near Felixstowe.

Mark Stevenson's whereabouts were unknown to authorities for seven months until he turned up in Trimley St Mary last week.  

Matching the description of a high risk missing person, the 42-year-old was stopped by police as he walked along the main road on Wednesday, January 6.

When identified, it was established that Stevenson was wanted by Humberside Police for failing to keep to sex offender notification requirements.

The following morning, he appeared in custody before Suffolk Magistrates' Court to admit breaching a notification order between May 10 last year and January 6 by either failing to notify authorities of a change of address or being of no fixed address.

Prosecutor Wayne Ablett said Stevenson was convicted in 1996 of rape and taking a child without lawful authority at Sheffield Crown Court and sentenced to seven years' custody.

As a registered sex offender, Stevenson was subject to a lifelong court order requiring him to notify police of any change of circumstances.

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Mr Ablett said Stevenson registered his address at a house in multiple occupation in Hull last January, but added: "It became apparent, following a visit by a public protection officer, that he wasn't there and had left some time previously.

"The landlady was informed by another tenant that he had left around May 10. She tried to contact him several times before finding a note left by the public protection officer.

"He was eventually located by police in the Suffolk area, having been wanted for some time by Humberside Police."

Mr Ablett said Stevenson told police he had been working in Hull until March, but quit his job, packed up and left, with no intention of returning, after a colleague found out about his past and he started receiving threats.

"He was staying in a tent in various locations and made his way from Grimsby to Suffolk," he added.

"He was sleeping in a tent in woodland in the Trimley St Mary area for one night prior to being arrested."

Mr Ablett invited magistrates to remand Stevenson in custody and commit the matter to the crown court for sentencing at a later date.

He said Stevenson had received a suspended prison sentence and a fine for previous breaches in Hull in 2013 and 2018.

Sue Threadkell, for Stevenson, made no representations.

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