The women behind a fugitive rapist's downfall

Jade Skea was a teenager when she first met charismatic street trader Kim Avis. She did not know it would bring her into a decade-long, controlling and abusive relationship with him and land her at the centre of a story that involved a fake death plot, an international manhunt and a high court trial.

This is the first time Jade has told her story about how she and others brought Kim Avis to justice.

For Jade it began in the early 2000s when Avis had a jewellery stall in the heart of Inverness which she used to visit with friends.

Jade says he was well-known in the town for his charity fundraising - including ambitious swims of Loch Ness - and was regularly featured in the local press.

"It was almost like he was a local sort of celebrity," she says.

By the time she was 18, Jade was regularly seeing Avis, who was in his 40s.

"He wasn't like other adults," Jade remembers. "We kind of felt like he was one of us."

As their relationship got more serious, Avis isolated her from family and friends and moved her into a static caravan outside Inverness, which no-one visited but him.

"Looking back now, I know that part of the plan was to just have me cut-off from everything," she says.

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Before long, Jade would begin to see the other side of Avis.

"He came to visit me one night, and he was just acting quite erratically, and he was upset about something," she says.

"He got on top of a picnic table that was outside the caravan, and he started howling, and just making bizarre animal noises."

Jade says that after this, Avis raped her for the first time.

Avis would subject Jade to a campaign of physical violence and abuse. He would go on to rape her again at his house known as the "Wolves Den".

"I remember just feeling like that was just kind of the end, this was going to be my life forever," Jade says.

In 2015, after years of violence, Jade decided to take action.

"He never thought that I would ever report him to the police," she says.

"I don't think that he thought that I had that in me. He was probably quite shocked."

And Jade wasn't alone.

Three other women had come forward to tell their stories of how Avis had raped and abused them over decades. Two of them were children at the time of the abuse.

"When other people came forward, at that point it's just completely unravelling for him," Jade says.

Avis appeared in court charged with multiple rapes and sexual assaults against four women. He was released on bail and a trial date was set for March 2019.

The problem was, he wouldn't be there.

Kim Avis had quickly sold his Wolves' Den property for £245,000, bought a plane ticket and arrived at Monastery Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

Kim Avis faked his own death and went on the run in the US
Kim Avis faked his own death and went on the run in the US

This place, known locally as "Mortuary Beach" due to frequent drownings in its waters, would be where Avis would attempt to fake his death.

"He had nothing to lose at that point. If he's got nothing to lose, you just don't know what he is capable of, because he is completely unhinged," Jade says.

Avis's eldest son, who was with him in the US, reported him missing but after a three-day search, it became clear the drowning was a hoax and a serial rapist was on the loose.

Police documents from the Monterey County Sheriff's Department recorded reported sightings of Avis all over the California coast in the days following his disappearance.

One witness described Avis as a "crazy Scotsman", another spoke of how the missing man was heading for Montana where he had bought property.

Months later, a mysterious man with an unusual accent arrived at a stall selling rocks and gemstones in the mountains near Colorado Springs, about 1,300 miles from where Avis went missing.

The man, who said his name was Cameron MacGregor, would spend about $3,000 at the stall, which was run by a woman called Angie.

"He was really elusive," she says. "I knew something was wrong."

The man claimed to be Scottish and sported an unfinished giant wolf tattoo across his back.

Avid sported a giant wolf tattoo across his back
Avid sported a giant wolf tattoo across his back

Angie got to know the man better and she says he looked rough around the edges but always had plenty of cash.

"He was always throwing money around," she says. "He'd buy everybody food and he might have been buying friends."

He told Angie he was a US citizen.

"I said 'Well let me see your passport,' and he got mad. He drove off for about an hour.

"I'm like, 'this is strange, this is really peculiar, he's talking about a witch hunt, something isn't right here'."

Avis had a passport in the name of Cameron MacGregor
Avis had a fake passport in the name of Cameron MacGregor

Angie no longer believed Cameron MacGregor was who he said he was.

"I took a picture of his car licence plates. I had a police friend and I said 'will you run these plates?'"

Angie says she then got a call from the US Marshals, a government agency that hunts fugitives across state lines.

"They said 'stay away from him, he's dangerous'," she says.

They asked Angie for information on where Avis stayed and where he went.

The US Marshals now had various tip-offs, sightings and financial transactions in the area too.

Then another call put Avis in a motel.

Backed up by local police, the marshals covered every possible escape route for hours while they waited for him to surface.

His last moments of freedom were captured on body cameras worn by the local police.

He was processed in Denver before being moved to a federal prison to await extradition to Scotland.

When he was arrested, Avis had more than $50,000 in cash, plus gold coins. He also had a brand new van he'd bought in the US.

Angie says they could not release the money and the van back to him and so she was granted power of attorney.

She ended up selling the van for $20,000 and sent most of the other cash back to Avis. He says he never got a dime.

While he was in federal prison, Angie visited him three times. Avis had no idea that she was likely behind his arrest.

Angie says Avis had no idea she was behind his arrest
Angie says Avis had no idea she was behind his arrest

Her last visit was after Avis was returned to prison in Scotland. When she saw him in jail in Edinburgh, she decided to let him in on a secret.

"I said, 'you know what, I'm the one that turned your plates in'," she recalls.

"He was pissed. I said 'you don't understand. You lied to the wrong American girl'."

After months on the run, an international manhunt, and a media circus, Avis was back home to face justice.

More than two years after going missing off the coast of California, he was convicted of rape and sexual offences against four women in June 2021.

He was jailed for 15 years - 12 years for sex crimes, and three years for failing to appear in court.

He was taken to HMP Edinburgh, where he remains today.

"I don't think he should ever be released," Jade says.

"He is a danger to anyone that he is in contact with in some way. He will absolutely ruin anyone that he's around long enough.

"And I don't think that he should ever, ever be out in public again."

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