Sunderland-born rapist and sex offender nicknamed 'The Fox' dies in prison

The arrest of Malcolm Fairley, aka 'The Fox', in London, on the 13th September 1984.
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)


A Sunderland-born rapist and sex offender, who was nicknamed 'The Fox', has died in prison.

Malcolm Fairley 72, who was from Sunderland and also lived in Peterlee, County Durham, committed 81 offences, including burglaries, rapes and serious sexual assaults across Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire in 1984, and was sentenced to six life terms in 1985.

The HM Prison and Probation Service has now confirmed Fairley died at HMP Hull on May 28.

Read more: Twisted burglar-rapist nicknamed 'The Fox' caught partially by his North East accent 40 years ago Keep up to date with all the latest breaking news and top stories from the North East with our free newsletter

He was dubbed 'The Fox' because he broke in to the homes of his victims and built dens, before escaping through the countryside. He also prepared and ate meals, watched TV and collected trophies from his victims, before committing the crimes while wearing a mask and brandishing a shotgun.

In response to the attacks, police sent hundreds of officers out to look for him in what became one of the country's biggest manhunts. The extensive manhunt was named Operation Peanut, and it ended up costing Bedfordshire Police hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Officers narrowed the search for 'The Fox' with two vital pieces of information, Fairley having a North East accent, and the unique yellow colour of his Austin Allegro. He was caught and sentenced at St Albans Crown Court in 1985, after police were able to track him down.

Fairley became eligible for release in 2000, and he has applied for parole three times. The Parole Board considered the case in October 2018, July 2022 and October 2023, but refused to release him from prison on each occasion.

Fairley's crimes have recently been featured in a recent Channel 5 documentary called 'The Intruder: He's Watching You From Within', which aired last month.

A HM Prison & Probation Service spokesperson said: "Malcolm Fairley died on 28 May at HMP Hull. As with all deaths in custody, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has been informed."