Karen Lawson

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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.

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.”

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 court hearing, 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 also said it was impossible for him to determine when Lawson would be suitable for parole and that decision would be made by the Home Secretary.

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

Media reports:

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

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

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