A rapist who faked his own death after fleeing to the US to escape justice has been jailed for 15 years.

Kim Avis, a well-known street trader from Inverness, was eventually tracked down more than 1,000 miles away in Colorado and extradited to Scotland, where he was convicted of rape and sexual abuse offences, including some against children.

The 57-year-old was found guilty of raping three of his victims and sexually assaulting a fourth following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow last month, the Crown Office said.

He was convicted of 14 charges in total, with the offences taking place mostly in Inverness between 2006 and 2017, including a charge of failing to attend a previous trial date after he fled to America. He had denied all the charges.

Mr Avis had been on bail when he flew into Los Angeles International Airport in February, using the name Ken Gordon-Avis.

The Scot was reported missing at Monastery Beach nine days later, with his son telling police that his father had gone for an evening swim.

While the beach is renowned for its beautiful sand, numerous deaths of swimmers and divers have led to it being dubbed Mortuary Beach, and locals have pointed out there are several posted warnings about treacherous conditions.

A three-day search was carried out in the area, although authorities were not aware of Mr Avis’s background at the time.

Search officers then realised he appeared to have taken all his personal belongings – including his passport – with him on the swim.

The investigation was eventually turned over to the US Marshals Service, which has responsibility for catching wanted criminals.

Five months after he disappeared, he was finally apprehended after a tip off revealed he had been seen driving a white Ford van in the Big Sur area of California.

Mr Avis was jailed for 12 years for the sexual offences – including some against children and a rape – and three years for the failure to appear charge.

The trial date had been fixed for March 11 2019, but the court was told after a near-death experience in California that he believed he would not receive a fair hearing and decided not to return to Scotland.

Fraser Gibson, of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, said upon the conviction it had been a "difficult and complex" investigation.

"Kim Avis went to great lengths to evade justice for his crimes," he said.

"Thanks to the efforts of police and prosecutors, working together with US law enforcement, he has been brought to justice and sentenced today."