Scots rapist who fled to the US and faked own death at ‘Mortuary Beach’ jailed

A Scottish rapist who tried to evade justice by faking his own death at one of the most dangerous beaches in California has been imprisoned for 15 years.

Kim Avis, a market trader from Inverness, was tracked down in Colorado over 1,000 miles away and brought back home to face justice in Scotland.

Avis had been on bail when he landed at Los Angeles International Airport on February 16 2019, and used a fake name, Ken Gordon-Avis, reports the BBC.

Nine days after his arrival, his son reported him missing at Monastery Beach near Carmel-by-the-Sea, telling the local sheriff's office that his dad had disappeared after going for an evening swim.

Monastery Beach is nicknamed Mortuary Beach due to its treacherous high surf conditions and dangerously strong undertow, characteristics which have caused the deaths of numerous swimmers and divers over the years.

American cops were initially unaware of Avis' history, and an extensive search of the beach and sea was carried out.

This was co-ordinated by the Monterey County Sheriff's Office, and included a dive team, forestry and fire protection personnel, a coastguard helicopter and a drone.

But Commander Derrel Simpson said one of his officers, Sgt David Murray, felt something didn't add up.

It appeared that Avis had taken all of his personal belongings, and even his passport, with him when he went for a swim.

Sgt Murray found the hotel where Avis was said to have stayed at had no record of him ever staying there, but it wasn't until he contacted one of Avis' relatives in Scotland that he learned he was facing multiple charges of sexual attacks in his home country.

Commander Simpson, a 30-year sheriff's office veteran, said: "We have had a lot of deaths at Monastery Beach, but I can't think of anyone using it as a ploy before."

The investigation was then handed over to the US Marshals Service, which for several months worked with Interpol and the Scottish authorities to secure an arrest and extradition warrant for Avis.

According to Commander Simpson, the most valuable tip-off they received was that Avis had been witnessed driving a white Ford van in the Big Sur area.

He was arrested the next week on July 27 2019.

Commander Simpson said: "It was impressive how everyone played a part, including the Scottish authorities – and how the US Marshals tracked him half way across the country."

Avis was transported back to Scotland, where he was held in prison until his trial.

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Last month, a jury at the High Court in Glasgow found the 57-year-old guilty of raping three women.

He was also found guilty of attempting to rape a girl when she was 12, and guilty of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl.

The market trader was found guilty of 14 charges dating between 2006 and 2017, off of which he denied.

On Friday, Avis was jailed for 12 years for the sex crimes he committed in the Highlands, and three years for failing to appear in court.

Judge Lord Sandison said Avis had been a well-known street trader in Inverness for many years, busking and selling jewellery from his market stall. He even received a good citizen award.

Despite this, the judge said there was another side to Avis, with a background report describing him as "a controlling and dominant personality".

Fraser Gibson, of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, said it had been a "difficult and complex" investigation.

He said: "Kim Avis went to great lengths to evade justice for his crimes.

"Thanks to the efforts of police and prosecutors, working together with US law enforcement, he has been brought to justice and sentenced today."

Police Scotland praised the victims for the "courage, strength and dignity" they had shown throughout the entire investigation and court case.

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