Karen White
© Rex
Karen White
A transgender prisoner has been jailed for life after she admitted sexually assaulting two female inmates and previously raping two other women.

Leeds Crown Court heard Karen White, 52, was a "predator" who posed a danger to women and children.

White, who was born male but now identifies as a woman and is transitioning, was jailed for two counts of rape, two sexual assaults while being held on remand and one offence of wounding.

She used her "transgender persona" to put herself in contact with vulnerable women, the court heard.

White - described by Judge Christopher Batty as "highly manipulative" - has previous convictions for gross indecency involving children, indecent exposure, indecent assault, dishonesty and violence.

Judge Batty told her: "You represent a significant risk of serious harm to children, to women and to the general public."

White must serve nine and a half years behind bars before she can be considered for parole.

Prosecutors said there was evidence to suggest her "approach to transitioning has been less than committed" and in fact designed to allow White access to vulnerable victims.

Barrister Christopher Dunn told the court White was first arrested after attacking a 66-year-old neighbour with a steak knife in West Yorkshire last August.

She accused her victim of a sexual approach and "slobbering all over" her in the communal laundry at their accommodation then later stabbed him with the knife, saying: "I'm going to kill you."

While on remand at HMP New Hall, White began gender re-allignment, wearing a wig, make-up and false breasts.

While there she became friendly with another female inmate, until an incident in September last year while in the queue for prisoners to get medication.

Mr Dunn said: "The complainant, while waiting, felt something hard press against the small of her back. She turned around to see the defendant stood there. She could see the defendant's penis erect and sticking out of the top of her pants, covered by her tights."

The matter was then reported to police and another prison assault came to light.

Another inmate told how she was in the prison workshop with White when the defendant was making "inappropriate comments about blow jobs."

White then grabbed her hand and put it on the defendant's left breast with the words: "Oh look, they are not real ones."

White admitted both offences of sexual assault.

While in jail, White had written to an earlier victim he had raped but which was not reported to police at the time. She subsequently complained to the prison authorities and police began to investigate.

The woman, in her 20s, told police White had violently raped her five or six times between January and December 2016, while they were in a relationship after meeting at a psychiatric unit in West Yorkshire.

White was described as violent and controlling, who told his victim what to wear, how to dress and even made her change her name.

"He would also fly into a violent rage for "minor infractions from his regime".

Mr Dunn said it left his victim "vulnerable, demotivated, demoralised and terrorised".

In a victim impact statement she said she had tried to take her own life and was worried she cannot have children due to the "internal damage" from the rapes.

The final victim dated back 15 years to August 2003, the court heard, and again came to light after police investigations following White's arrest last year.

The defendant, who was then known as Stephen Wood and living in Manchester, had offered to help decorate a flat belonging to the wife of a friend, who was two months pregnant.

While in the flat, White secretly spiked the woman's drink with vodka until she passed out, the court heard.

Mr Dunn continued: "The complainant woke up and felt the defendant on top of her ... having sex with her." White was arrested but no information was given in court as to why he was not prosecuted at the time. The victim told the court in a statement the attack had ruined her life and her husband had not believed her.

This woman had also tried to commit suicide. In a statement to the court she said: "I have no relationships with anyone. I felt very dirty as a woman. I became very depressed. Even now 15 years on I still struggle with mental health and suffer horrendous flashbacks. Until 15 years ago I was a strong woman."

The court heard White began identifying as a woman around the time she was remanded into custody awaiting trial for attacking the neighbour last August and about to embark upon gender re-assignment.

While on remand White freely admitted to probation officers she was sexually interested in children and could abuse a child and "think nothing of it".

Outside court, Detective Inspector David Rogerson, of West Yorkshire Police, said: "White has pleaded guilty to a number of serious sexual offences which span many years. White was originally called Stephen Wood and was from the Manchester area.

"We welcome White's guilty pleas to these offences, which have spared the victims the ordeal of a trial. We are pleased to see White appropriately sentenced by the courts for what are very serious offences."

White is currently believed to be inside a male prison and that that is where she will serve her sentence.