A rapist has been jailed for 15 years today, after fleeing Scotland and faking his own death at a California beach. 

Kim Avis, a market trader from Inverness, was tracked down by US marshals in Colorado and brought home to Scotland. 

On Friday, he was found guilty of a total of 13 offences of rape, attempted rape, sexual assault and indecency at Edinburgh’s High Court.

The 57-year-old was reported missing in America, after going for a swim at one of the country’s most dangerous beaches, Monastery Beach at Carmel, California. 

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The BBC reported the man flew to Los Angeles using a fake name on February 16, 2019, after being released on bail. 

Nine days later, his son reported him missing at Monastery Beach, telling the local sheriff's office that his dad had gone for an evening swim.

Due to a severe undertow and rip current, the beach is unsuitable for swimming and has been renamed “Mortuary Beach”, after several swimmers and divers died here.

Californian authorities were initially unaware of Avis' background and an extensive three-day search of the shore and sea was carried out.

Mary Schley, a reporter on the Carmel Pine Cone newspaper, told the BBC: "The water is very cold, so it's unusual for someone to go swimming only in a pair of shorts in the evening in late February, when it's nearing dark, as Avis was said to have done.

"The water that night was unusually flat and calm, and therefore not nearly as dangerous as when the surf is high, and the weather was clear."

Commander Derrel Simpson and his officer Sgt David Murray also told the BBC they felt something did not add up.

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They said Avis had taken all his personal belongings - including his passport - with him on the swim.

Officers were also told the pair had been camping, but they had no equipment for a hiking trip, while a hotel where Avis was said to have stayed had no record of him as a guest.

When Sgt Murray contacted one of Avis' relatives in Scotland, he learned that the missing man was facing charges of sexual offences in the Highlands.

Commander Simpson, a 30-year sheriff's office veteran, told the BBC: "We have had a lot of deaths at Monastery Beach, but I can't think of anyone using it as a ploy before."

At this point, the US Marshals Service, which deals with wanted criminals, took over the investigation.

With the help of Interpol and the Scottish authorities, the masharls tracked Avis down in Colorado Springs - more than 1,300 miles away from where he was reported missing.

He was arrested the following week, in July 2019 and extradited to Scotland.  

In court, Avis claimed that, after "a near death experience", he came to the view that he would not receive a fair trial.

He had denied a string of charges at an earlier trial but was convicted of attacks on two adult women and two girls committed between 2006 and 2016.

At the time, he said of the allegations against him: "It is like reading a film script. It is untrue. It is disgusting."

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The judge understood Avis had previously received  "some sort of good citizen award". 

However, Lord Sandison said there was another side to him and the author of a background report prepared on the sex offender had decribed him as "a controlling and dominant personality".

He said Avis manipulated, managed and coerced victims as he perpetrated a catalogue of sex offending which included horrific rapes.

Avis was jailed for 12 years for sex crimes, imprisoned for a further three years for failing to appear in court, and placed on the sex offenders register indefinitely.