Prison service confirms death of serial sex attacker ‘The Fox’ whose crime spree spanned Beds, Bucks and Herts

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A serial sex attacker who committed crimes across Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire has died in prison.

Malcolm Fairley – who became known as ‘The Fox’ – carried out sex attacks across the region in 1984, sparking one of the largest manhunts in British criminal history.

He was sentenced to six life terms for his crimes at St Albans Crown Court in 1985.

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The Ministry of Justice confirmed the 72-year-old died on Tuesday at HMP Hull.

Detective Chief Superintendent Brian Prickett in the documentary and, inset, Malcolm Fairley aka The Fox.Detective Chief Superintendent Brian Prickett in the documentary and, inset, Malcolm Fairley aka The Fox.
Detective Chief Superintendent Brian Prickett in the documentary and, inset, Malcolm Fairley aka The Fox.

He was dubbed The Fox, because he would build dens in the houses he broke into while waiting for homeowners to return. Masked and brandishing a shotgun, he would then commit crimes which included rapes, indecent assaults and violent attacks.

At its height in the summer of 1984 there were three attacks in just one week and 200 officers were involved in one of the largest police manhunts in British criminal history.

Fairley also committed break-ins and sexual crimes in Milton Keynes, South Yorkshire and his native North East. He was eventually arrested in September 1984 at home in North London, after forensic evidence linked his car to an attack. At the time of his arrest he had committed 81 offences as The Fox.

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In a recent ITN documentary, about the series of sexual attacks and burglaries in 1984, revealed Fairley had been eligible for a parole board review later this year.

Retired Det Ch Supt Brian Prickett, who led the investigation into his crimes said: "Malcolm Fairley should never come out of prison after all the fear and harm he put into the community.”