Karen Jones / Karen Lawson

Karen Jones (right) with Lord Patel
Photo: Facebook via Daily Mail

Karen Jones aka Karen Louise Lawson / Mark Jones, a violent male who identifies as a trans woman, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2003 at age 21, for the attempted rape of a female shop assistant in Manchester. The attack took place in 2002, five days after Lawson was released early on licence after being jailed for manslaughter. At the time, Lawson was living in a female bail hostel, having presented as a trans woman, though was sentenced under the name of Mark John Jones.

According to the Evening Standard Lawson was reported as having “carried out the attack as a cry for help so that she could go back to prison and have the sex change operation she had needed all her life.” The Manchester Evening News reports Lawson’s lawyer having told the court “[he] had committed the crime because he wanted to go back to prison. There, he thought, he would be given treatment for his condition.”

Lawson forced a lemon into the woman’s mouth, punched her in the face and held her by the hair in a back room of the Transformations shop (a shop for men who wish to buy and wear stereotypical female clothing and accessories). The attempted rape was so terrifying the woman told the police she thought she was going to die; the attack only ended when Lawson failed to get an erection.

Lawson had previously been jailed for five years for manslaughter in 2001 after admitting suffocating and strangling 43-year-old partner Michael Cutler when living as an 18 year old man (Mark John Jones). Lawson had wrapped Mr Cutler’s body in a sheet and duvet, leaving it in a utility room at their flat in Manchester in March 2000. It was found three weeks later, but was so badly decomposed that a pathologist could not ascertain the cause of death. When questioned, the defendant told police he had changed his name to Karen Louise Lawson by deed poll.

It was reported that Lawson wanted to buy and wear female clothing and nail varnish, and that Mr Cutler had refused to pay for Lawson’s gender reassignment surgery (see also Charlene Blundell who attacked a friend who similarly refused to pay for the defendant’s surgery). A psychiatrist’s diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder was a significant factor in Lawson’s claimed loss of control following provocation before the killing.

Lawson was referred to as a woman throughout the attempted rape trial, and had been freed on licence after serving half the five-year sentence for manslaughter in a male young offenders institution.

Sentencing Lawson to life, Judge Derwent Hope said “Until you have full and proper treatment, I consider you to be potentially an extremely serious risk to any member of the public you associate with, a risk that could easily lead to that person’s death.” Lawson’s name was also added to the sex offenders’ register for life.

The judge refused to set a minimum tariff for the life sentence as it was impossible for him to determine when Lawson would be suitable for parole so that decision would be made by the Home Secretary. The Court of Appeal then ruled in 2005 that despite such serious crimes, Lawson should not be jailed forever and should serve a minimum of three and a half years before being eligible for parole.

Lawson has reportedly had surgery while incarcerated, been moved to a women’s prison and later released.

**Update February 2018**

The Daily Mail reported that Lawson, (now reverting to the surname of Jones but retaining Karen as a first name) – a convicted sex offender, ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for life – was invited by Lord Patel to address a reception at the House of Lords on January 23, 2018.  The event was to launch a review called ‘Inside Gender Identity: a report on meeting health and social care needs of transgender people in the criminal justice system.’ It is unknown whether any representatives raising safety concerns regarding vulnerable women in prison being incarcerated with male transgender sex offenders were present at the reception.

Lord Patel of Bradford, who is chairman of the Community Innovations Enterprise, was apparently fully aware of Jones’ criminal past. As media coverage of Lawson/Jones’ violent convictions were in the offender’s birth name of Mark Jones and a previous name of Karen Louise Lawson, he and other attendees would have been unable to check.

Media reports:

Mumsnet https://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/3180050-Invited-to-talk-at-the-House-of-Lords

Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5440153/Woman-born-man-invited-speak-House-Lords.html

Hartlepool Mail http://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/news/sex-change-lover-on-murder-charge-1-992356

Hartlepool Mail http://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/news/sex-op-man-had-a-mental-problem-1-992364

Evening Standard http://www.standard.co.uk/news/transexual-rapist-jailed-6971617.html archive

Manchester Evening News http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/jail-for-rape-bid-by-sex-change-man-1150286 archive

BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/3161209.stm

Pink News https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2005/12/13/transsexual-killer-convicted-of-attempted-rape-has-sentence-reduced/