A SEX offender who carried out a series of attacks on young women in Selly Oak, Edgbaston and Quinton while wearing a mask has been jailed for 21 years.

Elvis Sidaway, from Fountain Road, Edgbaston, preyed on lone young women as they made their way home in the early hours of the morning after work or a night out, often wearing what was described as a gorilla or ‘Yoda’ mask.

The sex assaults, which took place between November 20 2016 and January 29 2017, left residents fearful of being out after dark - and young women were urged not to walk home alone.

On each occasion the victim reported being grabbed and threatened, sometimes with a knife or another type of weapon.  Police patrols were stepped up immediately and CCTV was trawled through to identify the offender.  In the early hours of February 4 a blue Peugeot 207 was spotted on Dartmouth Road, Selly Oak, and checks led detectives to Sidaway, who matched the description given by victims.

After his vehicle was spotted in Selly Oak at the same time the next day, police arrested him and a search of his car revealed condoms and a black firelighter. At his address, officers found a craft knife, black gloves and another firelighter.  The 53-year-old paint mixer was charged with five counts of sexual assault by touching, for which he pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.

He pleaded not guilty to rape and three counts of possession of a knife, for which he stood trial this week.  But after just two-and-a-half hours the jury found him guilty of all charges and he was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court yesterday (Friday July 14).

He was jailed for 21 years and will stay on the Sex Offenders' Register for life.

After the hearing Detective Sergeant Laura Harrison, from the force’s Public Protection Unit, said: "I am pleased with the sentencing. 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."