standing trial after decades
Roberts went to trial in 2011 at Southwark Crown court, close to the suburbs he’d stalked.Despite the evidence against him, the 45 year old of ‘no fixed address’ denied all the charges. It was left to a jury to decide his fate.They heard from two women who had lived with Roberts, Julie Warner and Leanne Ward. He had been violent to both.Miss Ward stated he was a petty criminal who often returned home late. He would bring back stolen handbags. She said he scanned the news. She believed he was checking to see if they were linking him to burglaries, but not to rape. She also added he had a pale green tracksuit, similar to one described by his victims.It didn’t take the jury long to come back with unanimous guilty verdicts.Roberts was convicted of two counts of indecent assault and inflicting grievous bodily harm, three counts of rape and four counts of burglary.
The judge sentenced him to four life terms. Roberts would spend the rest of his life behind bars.In so doing, Michael John Roberts became the first man to get a ‘life means life’ sentence for rape.“I do sentence you to imprisonment for the rest of your natural life...your utter depravity knows no bounds, these are very grave offences.”Judge RobbinsRoberts tried to protest his innocence. Prison guards took him away before he could finish his statement.The Detective Chief Inspector Brian Bowden-Brown broke down into ‘floods of tears’ after the verdict.None of Roberts’ victims lived to hear the result. None saw him face justice. Many of them died knowing their attacker was still at large. That he could strike at any time. One of the victim’s sons did attend. He was as happy as any son could be that a man who had destroyed his family wouldn’t be able to again.The killer of Irene Grainey remains to be charged. Due to the lack of forensic evidence, it is unlikely the person responsible will ever face justice for their crime.