Flasher exposed himself to women on Hampstead Heath and attacked elderly in their homes, court told

Lee Cyrus, formerly known as Ivan Leach, has been convicted of 11 charges

Lee Cyrus, formerly known as Ivan Leach, has been convicted of 11 charges - Credit: Archant

A fugitive who sparked a nationwide manhunt after escaping from prison subjected women to a terrifying spree of violent and sexual offences on Hampstead Heath, a court has heard.

Lee Cyrus, 48, formerly known as Ivan Leach, is accused of stalking and attacking women on the Heath and in their homes while on the run from police between October and December last year.

A jury at the opening of his trial at Southwark Crown Court on Monday heard that Cyrus led a “nomadic existence” on the Heath, often appearing from the trees with his face covered to “flash” his genitalia at female walkers.

Having escaped North Sea Camp open prison in Boston, Lincolnshire, Cyrus embarked on a disturbing six-week campaign targeting elderly women, including violent assaults, robbery and attempted rape, before he was arrested by police in Highgate, the court was told.

Christopher Amis, prosecuting, described Cyrus as a “predator”, adding: “The Crown’s case is that for six weeks, Lee Cyrus, on a number of occasions whilst armed with a knife and wearing a black balaclava, stalked and terrorised female members of the public walking on and living around Hampstead Heath.

“His offences consisted initially of indecently exposing himself to women out walking on the Heath. The offences increased in seriousness – they graduated to brutal attacks on elderly females, whom he targeted because they were alone in their own homes.”

It is alleged that on November 2, Cyrus attacked a 63-year-old woman at the doorstep of her home in the Vale of Health, hitting her over the head with a piece of wood or stone and leaving her with a gash to her scalp.

Most Read

Cyrus eventually moved into a women’s flat in Dowding House, in the Hillcrest Estate, Highgate, as a lodger on November 14.

The court heard how he targeted an 81-year-old woman at her home in Rodborough Road, Golders Green, on November 19, breaking into her home wearing a balaclava and dressed in all black.

Brandishing a kitchen knife, he demanded she hand over a bag containing cash, a credit card and photographs of her grandchildren.

Two days later, he is accused of attacking another woman, aged 61, with a 4ft metal bar or piece of wood on the doorstep of her home in Gainsborough Gardens, Hampstead.

The court heard Cyrus then committed a knife-point robbery of a woman outside her home in Maybury Mews, Highgate, on November 30, followed by a burglary at a home in Woodstock Road, Golders Green on December 1.

In the early hours of December 2, the court was told how a woman living in Highgate, was confronted by Cyrus standing at the other side of her locked gate telling her “I am going to rape you”.

She called the police who arrested Cyrus a short distance away in Highgate Hill.

Cyrus, of no fixed address, denies attempted rape, six counts of indecent exposure, wounding with intent, two counts of unlawful wounding, affray, robbery, aggravated burglary and burglary.

The trial continues.