A SERIAL sex beast branded "as evil as the Yorkshire Ripper" will die in jail for the murder of a girl of 14.
Robert Howard was caged in 2003 for strangling Hannah Williams with a length of rope.
But a judge ordered his conviction and "whole life" sentence kept secret because he still faced other sex charges.
Those charges were dropped yesterday. And the horrific extent of Howard's reign of terror can now be revealed
Howard, 61, first struck 40 years ago, when he broke into a six- year-old girl's home, tried to rape her and subjected her to a vile sex attack.
The predator has been linked to at least eight more rapes or attempted rapes.
One of his victims was a 60-year-old virgin.
Police in Howard's native Ireland are to investigate whether he could be linked to a string of unsolved disappearances of young women.
And relatives of a 15-year-old girl who vanished in Belfast are convinced Howard killed her, even though he was acquitted in July of the crime.
A detective said: "Howard is an evil b ***** d - as evil as the Yorkshire Ripper. He is shrewd and cunning - the proverbial s *** house rat."
Drifter Howard lived in Drumchapel, Glasgow, in 1995. Locals drove him out after the Record exposed him as a pervert, but the experience did nothing to make him change his ways.
Howard moved to London and turned his attention to Hannah, a pal of his then girlfriend.
He used his lover's mobile to lure Hannah, who had learning difficulties, to a meeting in April 2001.
Police believe he then raped the trusting and defenceless girl before strangling her, wrapping her body in a blue tarpaulin and dumping her at an old cement works in Kent.
Detective superintendent Colin Murray, who led the hunt for Hannah's killer, said: "We say she resisted and that is why she died."
Hannah's corpse lay hidden for a year before a construction worker found it.
The length of rope used to kill her was still wrapped around her neck and her knickers were discovered nearby, cut into three pieces.
The body was too decomposed for police to find the killer's DNA. But there was circumstantial evidence against Howard.
Rope and tarpaulin similar to those used in the murder had been seen at the pervert's home and he knew the body site because he used to walk his dogs there
Police learned that Howard had indecently assaulted another young girl near the spot where Hannah was dumped. And the brute's trial heard that he had used rope in a similar way in another alleged sex attack on a teenage girl.
A jury at Maidstone Crown Court took just three hours to convict Howard of murder. Several jurors wept as the long list of his previous convictions was read out.
Mr Justice McKinnon recommended Howard never be freed.He told him: "There are no mitigating circumstances whatsoever.
"You are a danger to girls and women and have been for a long time."
Howard was back in the dock earlier this year, this time charged with murdering 15-year-old Arlene Arkinson in Ulster in 1994.
Belfast Crown Court heard that Howard gave Arlene a lift on the night she vanished. Her body has never been found.
Jurors cleared Howard in July of murdering Arlene.
Howard's first sex conviction came in 1965, when he was 19.
He broke into a six-year-old's London home, told her he was a doctor and ordered her to strip. He tried to rape her and carried out a brutal sex attack but was sentenced to just nine days in Borstal.
Three years later,Howard got six years' jail for the attempted rape of a young wife in her home in Durham. The victim fled naked into the street, where neighbours had to stop Howard attacking her.
Three more rape allegations against Howard were left on file.
Howard was deported back to Ireland after serving his sentence. And in 1974, he got 10 years for the rape of a 60-year-old virgin in Cork.
Again, he broke into his victim's house. He punched her in the face and mutilated her breasts before gagging her with her bedsheet and abusing her for five hours.
In 1991, a girl with learning difficulties accused Howard of violently abusing her in Dublin. Prosecutors decided the girl would not make a credible witness.
Two years later, a 16-year-old from County Tyrone told police Howard had kidnapped her, hung herupsidedown in awardrobeand forced her to carry out sex acts.
The beast tied a rope around the girl's neck and tightened it every time she said no to him.
She threw herself through a second-floor window to escape him.
Howard was cleared of raping the girl but convicted of unlawful sex and given a suspended sentence.
Until yesterday, Howard also faced charges of raping a schoolgirl in Northern Ireland in 1988.
But the case was dropped and the court order banning reports of Howard's crimes was lifted.
Police will now look over their lists of unsolved cases to check whether Howard may have been responsible for other disappearances of girls.
At least 12 such cases are outstanding in Ireland