A child killer who ‘exudes evil’ was sentenced for a string of horrific sex attacks on women and children today – as police fear he may be linked to a further five more deaths.
John Taylor was already serving life for the murder of schoolgirl Leanne Tiernan, 16, who he strangled when he admitted to the sex attacks on other women.
Yesterday, he was sentenced after admitting 16 other violent and sexual offences against women over four decades prior to Leanne’s murder in November 2000 – ensuring he will die behind bars.
Between 1977 and 1996 in Leeds, West Yorks, the ‘heinous’ predator raped three young women and committed a horrific sexual assault on a seven-year-old girl.
Taylor, who had a wife and two children, engaged the girl, who had gone out to buy a loaf of bread, by asking her to help him find her lost dog.
He then forced the child to a secluded location, tied her to a drainpipe and performed a sex act before coldly walking her home and fleeing the area.
His three counts of rape relate to attacks on women in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
Two of the attacks were carried out at knifepoint and involved Taylor tying his victims up and threatening to kill them.
These decades-old crimes came to light following Operation Quayside, a West Yorkshire Police initiative to capture historic sex offenders.
Appearing at Leeds Crown Court via videolink from HM Prison Wakefield, Taylor, now 62, was sentenced to a whole life tariff, meaning there’s no possibility of parole.
Judge Robin Mairs said: ‘This was a 20-year campaign of rape and sexual assault against children and women, fuelled by a sadistic desire to inflict pain for sexual gratification.
‘These were vile and sadistic attacks on women and small children marked by ferocity and callousness.
‘You sought to maximise the distress you could cause.’
Prosecuting Stephen Wood said: ‘All these offences demonstrate the defendant’s longstanding violent and sadistic proclivity towards vulnerable women and female children.
‘He became evermore emboldened over time before finally committing the murder of Leanne Tiernan.’
Leeds Crown Court heard powerful impact statements from each of Taylor’s victims.
His youngest rape victim, age 19 at the time, said: ‘When evil touches you there’s no way back to who you were. I died that day.’
Another statement came from a mother who was walking with her three children through woodland when Taylor demanded she perform a sex act at knife point.
She said: ‘I always felt having looked into his eyes he would go on to commit more crimes.’
Another of the rape victims said: ‘When I heard about Leanne Tiernan I felt guilty, I wondered what if I had reported sooner what Taylor did to me.
‘I knew the Tiernan family and I often think about what she would be doing if she was alive now.’
A woman who was raped by Taylor while making her way to work in the early hours of the morning said: ‘He’s devoid of compassion, exudes evil and respects no one or nothing but his sick gratification.’
Taylor’s final crime, as far as police are aware, came on 26 November 2000 in the case of Leanne Tiernan, which attracted national attention because of the enormous manhunt that followed.
In the subsequent months West Yorkshire Police visited more than 10,000 homes and drained a canal, in one of the biggest manhunt’s in the force’s history.
Her body was discovered dumped in woodland close to her home in Leeds on August 20 2001.
Forensic evidence led detectives to Taylor and later found that the body was only dumped weeks before it was found, after having been stored in a freezer for months.
The subsequent court case found that Taylor snatched Leanne from a woodland path, took her to his home and killed her.
In July 2002 he was found guilty of the abduction and murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Less than a year later, following a police review of unsolved sexual attacks, Taylor was convicted of two rapes in the 1980s and received a further life sentence.
As well as rape Taylor was also found guilty of possessing numerous offensive weapons, a series of assaults, unlawful wounding and kidnapping.