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Serial rapist and animal killer Kevin Vivers handed life sentence with at least 10 years in prison

A serial rapist and animal killer who preyed on women for more than three decades has been handed a life sentence with at least 10 years behind bars.

Kevin Vivers, 58, subjected his six victims to assaults, sexual assaults and rapes during a campaign of abuse that spanned from 1985 to 2020 in the West Lothian and Forth Valley areas.

His abuse of animals included shooting a dog dead and slitting the throat of another.

Vivers, from Bathgate in West Lothian, was found guilty of 27 charges - including nine rapes, seven assaults, four sexual assaults and five counts of animal cruelty.

At the High Court in Edinburgh on Friday, Judge Lord Lake imposed an Order for Lifelong Restriction on Vivers, who was 19 when he began his attacks.

He will be monitored by authorities until he dies and will have to spend at least decade in jail before being eligible for parole.

However, Lord Lake warned him: "I must make it clear to you that this does not mean that you will be released automatically at the end of that period."

He was also placed on the sex offenders' register indefinitely and banned from contacting his victims.

The judge added: "They are offences of the most serious kind even when taken individually. When considered together, they are a continued course of depraved conduct showing the highest degree of culpability.

"I have no hesitation in concluding that there is a likelihood that, if at liberty, you will seriously endanger the lives, or physical or psychological wellbeing, of members of the public at large."

Vivers's crimes included the rape of a woman on a farm track, molesting another victim while she was asleep, and indecent conduct towards an underage girl in a field when she was 13 or 14. He went on to assault and rape the same victim when she became an adult.

He was found guilty at the High Court in Livingston in November.

'Playing the system'

At his sentencing in Edinburgh on Friday, Vivers told the court via video link from prison: "I have been penalised for something that is well and truly unproved."

His outburst came after he failed to find new legal representation after dismissing lawyers earlier in the week when he was initially due to be punished.

Lord Lake said he believed Vivers was "playing the system in order to avoid facing the consequences of your conduct."

He added: "Your victims showed great courage in giving their evidence and did so with dignity.

"I hope that as today marks the end of the trial process, it will be of some help to them in their lives and in coping with the harm you have done to them."

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Following Friday's hearing, Scotland's procurator fiscal for high court sexual offences branded Vivers a "habitual offender" who subjected women to "appalling physical and sexual assaults".

Katrina Parkes added: "We hope it is some reassurance to others - and comfort to his victims - that his criminal behaviour has been brought to an end by today's sentence.

"As prosecutors, we are grateful for the courage of his victims. They bravely spoke out in the pursuit of justice, even when the offending occurred some years ago.

"I would encourage all victims or witnesses of similar offending to come forward, report it and seek support."

Detective Chief Inspector Steven McMillan said it had been a difficult case due to the "horrendous nature" of Vivers' crimes.

He added: "Our thoughts remain with the victims and their families. It is from their reports that we were able to build a significant case against Vivers, which ultimately resulted in his sentencing today.

"I hope this brings them some comfort and helps them move forward."