A career criminal has been jailed for 20 years after being found guilty of a string of rapes and sexual attacks.
John Burden, 49, was a notorious figure in Dunstable with a long list of criminal convictions and father to 14 children by seven women.
Described as a “dominant” character, he was at last brought down by the testimony of the women he brutalised years ago.
Jailing him on Monday, Judge Michael Kay QC said: “You are a man without any sense of what’s right and wrong.
“You have no morals whatsoever.”
The trial at Luton Crown Court lasted over two weeks, with 11 witnesses, some giving at times harrowing evidence of the abuse Burden had inflicted on the women.
One victim was just 14 when she was raped on her way to school.
Prosecutor Laura Blackband described another of Burden’s victims as “a virgin and a vulnerable girl estranged from her family” at the time she was raped.
Ms Blackband said: “[The victim] described it like being on a slate in a morgue, like an out of body experience.
“She said he just moved her legs around. She said it was an absolutely horrific experience.”
The charges at last came to light when one of the women confided in a colleague, breaking a silence of decades. She then went to police and gave the details of another woman.
Burden was arrested last year at his home in Maidenbower Avenue.
Ms Blackband went on: “He was taken to the police station and interviewed. He said it was a jackanory story made up by these women.”
The victims were forced to give evidence at Burden’s trial. A jury found Burden guilty of five counts of rape and four of buggery on Monday, June 6.
Judge Kay QC jailed him for 20 years, with a five year extension, to follow on from a current sentence of four years imprisonment Burden is already serving for violent disorder that was handed down in January.
Court proceedings were accompanied by disturbances in the public gallery – described as “disgraceful” at one point by the judge.
As the sentence was read out, several of Burden’s daughters stormed out of the public gallery followed by the rest of his family – screaming his innocence in the court corridor.
Speaking after the hearing, Det Insp Jenni McIntyre-Smith, who led the investigation, said: “First of all we want to thank the women for the bravery they showed in coming forward.
“It’s been incredibly difficult for them to relive the harrowing experiences they suffered at the hands of Burden but hopefully today’s guilty verdict and sentencing will help them move forward.
“Burden’s abuse of these women was sickening and no-one should have to suffer such atrocities.”
An NSPCC spokesman added: “The horrific experiences these women endured has no doubt left a long lasting impact on their lives.
“This case is a tragic example of what sexual predators can do to children who are too fearful to speak out.
“Burden was convicted for his crimes decades later, which shows how cunning offenders can be.
“Today shows complaints will be taken seriously and that criminals like Burden can be held to account, however long after abuse has happened.”
For help and support, children can contact ChildLine 24 hours a day on 0800 1111 or by visiting www.childline.org.uk.
Anyone with information relating to the court case is asked to contact the Op Cresta team at Bedfordshire Police on 101.