A JUDGE has praised the courage shown by three women whose evidence about how they were raped by a "controlling bully" led to him being jailed for nine years.

Lord Pentland made the remarks moments before sending Lee Thomson, 26, to prison.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard how Thomson targeted the women in the Fife area between 2012 and 2019.

The court heard how Thomson abducted one young woman by locking her in a house.

He had ripped out the home’s internet connection and took away her mobile phone and laptop in a bid to prevent her from contacting anybody.

He also physically assaulted all three of his victims – who were aged 20, 24 and 25. He smashed one complainer’s cheekbone in one violent attack and left the others covered in bruises.

Thomson, of Oakley, had denied the charges and claimed all three women – who cannot be named for legal reasons – had consensual sex with him.

However, a jury rejected his claims and convicted him on rape, abduction and assault charges following proceedings last month at the High Court in Livingston.

On Friday, Lord Pentland also ordered Thomson to be supervised by the authorities for four years following his release from custody.

He had been addressed by defence advocate Michael Anderson, who said his client continued to maintain his innocence.

Passing sentence, Lord Pentland said: “The complainers deserve credit for the courage they have shown by giving evidence against you.

“You are unable to control your anger and frustration. You are a controlling bully and have no respect for women.

“It is clear that you have developed no insight into the gravity of your offending and the physical and psychological impact that your behaviour has had on the complainers in this case.

“You present a substantial risk to the safety of women and to the safety of the public.”

Police also priased the victims.

Detective Constable Lesley Couper, at the Divisional Rape Investigation Unit in Glenrothes, said: “The accused has been found guilty of a number of charges including multiple rapes, physical assaults and abduction. He carried out a sustained period of physical and sexual abuse against three partners over a period of seven years and caused one of his victims to sustain a severe injury.

“I must pay tribute to the bravery of these women for having the strength to come forward and report the years of abuse they endured and commend them for the courage they have shown throughout court proceedings, which has been instrumental in securing this conviction.

“I hope that today’s outcome gives the women some sort of closure and sends a clear message to anyone who thinks it’s acceptable to treat anyone in this way.

"We welcome the sentencing today and his placement on the sex offenders' register indefinitely means that he will be the subject of monitoring and supervision to restrict his ability to cause harm to anyone else.

“Police Scotland is committed to tackling domestic abuse and no-one should ever feel that they are alone or in a position of fear. I would encourage other individuals suffering from domestic abuse to have the strength to come forward and report crimes of this nature.

“Domestic crime, in all its forms, remains one of Police Scotland’s top priorities. Any disclosures made will be investigated thoroughly with the utmost professionalism and sensitivity to bring perpetrators to justice. We will continue to work with partner agencies to ensure victims of domestic abuse are supported and to ensure their safety and wellbeing.”

At proceedings last month, prosecution lawyer Derrick Nelson told the jury that Thomson used violence, or the threat of it, when he was refused sex.

He added: “If consent is only given because someone’s going to batter her that’s not consent freely given.

“I’d suggest the real Lee Thomson is a controlling, denigrating bully.

“There’s ample evidence he’s a dangerous man with clear anger control issues and he’s a manipulative man.”

Following his convictions, it emerged that Thomson had convictions for stalking, threatening and abusive behaviour and domestic violence.

Lord Pentland deferred sentence for the court to obtain reports about Thomson’s character.

On Friday, Mr Anderson told the court that his client maintained he was innocent of any wrongdoing.

He added: “He continues to maintain the position which he adopted during trial.”

Mr Anderson also said that Thomson’s family continued to support him.

The lawyer added: “He has a strong relationship with his mother. I would ask your lordship to see that as a positive influence.”

Lord Pentland then sent Thomson to prison. A man sitting in the public benches shouted: “Result” as Thomson was being led away to begin life in jail.