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Rapist 'has other victims'

Father's claim after man is jailed

By Michael McHugh newsdesk@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

A COUNTY Armagh sex monster who was imprisoned for life on Friday may have raped at least two other women who were too traumatised to give evidence in court, the Belfast Telegraph learned today.

A COUNTY Armagh sex monster who was imprisoned for life on Friday may have raped at least two other women who were too traumatised to give evidence in court, the Belfast Telegraph learned today.

Thomas Roy Whitla (46), of James Street, Lurgan, was jailed for rape and indecent assault last week after Craigavon Crown Court's Judge Curran heard of a 20-year catalogue of convictions for raping two other women and indecently assaulting others.

Whitla raped Lurgan woman Sinead McAvoy (18) on a railway embankment in the town in October 2002 when she was just 16.

But her father Peter has been contacted by two of Whitla's other alleged victims who would not give evidence in court.

Whitla has never been convicted of those additional offences and Mr McAvoy said he was angry that someone with a track record of abusing women had been released after serving a string of relatively short sentences.

"I think it is a disgrace that he was released after serving such a short sentence. He had a proven record of this type of offence and they released him too quickly," he said.

"If he had not been released then he could not have posed the threat he did to Sinead and other women.

"I know of two other women who he has raped but who would not go to court."

Whitla was sentenced to eight years imprisonment for his first rape in 1984 but was released by 1987 when he committed a series of offences, including assaults and attempted rape.

In 1992 he was sentenced to ten years for another rape and was released in 1997.

Whitla was sentenced for making threats to kill and attempted rape in 1998 but was released in January 2001.

Last Saturday, Sinead waived her legal right to anonymity to tell the Telegraph of her ordeal.

Judge Curran made clear at the time of sentencing his expectation that Whitla would be treated for mental illness as part of his sentence.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said sentencing was not a matter for prisons.

The NIO said the issue was a matter for Courts Service.

The Courts Service said sentencing guidelines were "a matter for the NIO and as such the NICS can't comment".

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