Cross-dresser branded 'high risk' to women
A cross-dressing sex attacker has been jailed indefinitely following an attack on a pensioner.
Mark Lazarus has an obsession with women's clothes and put on a skirt and tights before committing all of his offences.
He was jailed after carrying out a terrifying attack on a 71-year-old woman in a sea front public toilet in Teignmouth, South Devon, where he waited for an hour until someone wearing a skirt went in.
He followed her in, changed into his skirt and tights in a neighbouring cubicle, and pounced on her as she washed her hands.
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The petrified woman needed treatment for shock after heavily built Lazarus seized her and dragged her into a cubicle where he tried to have sex with her.
She was saved from the ordeal because she screamed for help and Lazarus fled, still wearing his skirt, but was stopped by a passer-by.
Lazarus, 39, had carried out two previous attacks while dressed as a woman. During one, he walked behind a group of schoolgirls muttering "skirt, skirt".
He was rated as extremely dangerous in risk assessments carried out by a psychiatrist and probation officer and highly likely to commit further attacks.
Lazarus, who is from Tiverton, but was living in a hostel in Howell Road, Exeter, admitted attempted rape and was jailed indefinitely by Judge Phillip Wassall at Exeter Crown Court. He will not be able to apply for parole for at least four years.
The judge told him: "The reports say that you acknowledge you are a high risk to women and you told the probation officer you don't think you will ever change.
"You are in my view extremely dangerous. You are likely to re-offend with potentially incalculable consequences for the public.
"Your victims are likely to be confronted by someone wearing a skirt and tights and that is likely to impact on them even more than a stranger rape in other circumstances. Your risk of re-offending increases when you cross- dress. This offence highlights your fascination with skirts.
"It seems that anyone of any age, from schoolgirls right up to ladies of this age, are at risk."
Sean Brunton, prosecuting, said the attack took place in February when Lazarus took a train to Teignmouth with a skirt and tights on under his clothing and waited outside the toilet block until a suitable victim entered.
He followed her in, stripped off to his skirt and tights, and attacked her as she washed her hands.
Mr Brunton said: "He got her to the floor and she pulled back from him and screamed. He later told police that if it had not been for her screams he would have raped her.
"She was bruised and suffered psychological effects. She said she was devastated and was petrified by her ordeal."
Lazarus was held by passer-by Sean Pope, who saw him fleeing the toilets in a skirt and tights and seized him, holding him until police arrived.
Brunton said Lazarus' previous sexual offences took place on the banks of the River Exe, in Tiverton, in July 1999.
On both occasions he dressed as a schoolgirl and followed young girls along the towpath, assaulting an 11-year-old and exposing himself to others.
William Parkhill, defending, said while reports rated him as extremely dangerous, it was possible he could benefit from many years of psychiatric treatment in prison.