One of Cambridgeshire's oddest traditions gets under way this morning...
Rapist Who Threatened to Kill Toddlers Jailed for Life
A rapist who attacked two young women in front of a group of two-year-old children, threatening to kill the youngsters if the victims did not comply, has been jailed for life.
The judge jailing Paul Eames, 40, said that, in 30 years in the courts, he had rarely been so shocked by the "depths of depravity and sheer wickedness" involved in the rapes.
One-legged Eames approached the women - then aged 20 and 23 - in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, as they were taking two girls and three boys - some in pushchairs - to a pet shop to buy fish food.
Gordon Stables, prosecuting, told Sheffield Crown Court: "On a footpath ... they were confronted by the defendant who threatened to kill the children if the women did not go with him further into the woods to an isolated area.
"Once there, the victims were subjected to a series of rapes and sexual assaults which took place in front of the children.''
Mr Stables said: "During the course of the incident the defendant took the complainants' mobile phones, and told them that if they told anyone what he had done, he knew where they lived and would do it again.''
The prosecutor said one of the women told Eames: "We've got kids.''
He said the defendant replied :"Just go or I'll kill your kids. Hurry up or I'll kill your kids. I'll kill your kids. I'll stab your kids.''
The attack took place on Eames's 40th birthday - in September last year - on the Trans Pennine Trail, in north Doncaster.
The women were looking after the five children at the time.
The court heard that Eames has previous convictions for 93 different offences - although none of a sexual nature until this incident.
In 2009 he was jailed for four and a half years after taking a seven-year-old girl and a woman hostage and holding a knife to the woman's throat.
That incident, in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, led to two-day armed police siege.
Mr Stables said Eames began offending when he was 13 years old and has had drug problems since he was 10.
Judge Michael Murphy QC told Eames: "Despite having sat in criminal courts for just over 30 years ... I still find cases that come along from time to time that shock me to the core. This is one of them because of the depths of depravity and sheer wickedness involved in the case.
"What you did to these innocent young women in front of children is among the most depraved and most perverted behaviour I have ever come across.''
The judge said: "Heaven knows what these very young children thought you were doing.''
Judge Murphy jailed Eames for life and said he must serve 10 and a half years before he is considered for parole.
He told him: "I would be very surprised if the Parole Board were able to say at that stage you were safe to be allowed into the community.''
Eames, of Redbourne Road, Doncaster, admitted three rapes, two sexual assaults, one attempted rape and two counts of robbery at previous hearings.
Judge Murphy said Eames "exploited the sense and duty and the love (the two women) would have had for the young children in their care''.
He said: "It reads like a horror story.''
The judge listened as sections of impact statements were read to the court.
One of the women said in her statement: "This man has ruined my life.''
One of the victims sat watching the proceedings in the public gallery as Eames followed the hearing on a video link from Wakefield Prison.
Balding and wearing a blue T-shirt, he left at one point as the judge was sentencing him.
Earlier, the judge was told Eames claims no recollection of the rapes due to his drink and drugs problems.
Detective Sergeant Pete Swift said: "Eames is a vile and loathsome individual and his actions that day were sickening and absolutely inexcusable.
"He made the women endure what can only be described as an agonising, vicious and traumatising attack and I am pleased he will be behind bars for a very lengthy period of time.''
The officer said: "The victims were given a horrendous choice on that day to either run and look after themselves or stay with the children in their care and ensure their wellbeing.
"They chose the second option and in doing so endured a despicable attack.
"The option they took should never be underestimated or forgotten. What they experienced that day is the thing of nightmares and something that no-one should ever endure.''
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