James Oliver, 25, had ruined the lives of his victims - all professional women - by subjecting them to nightmarish ordeals, the court was told. Some woke in the early hours to find Oliver, high on crack cocaine, in their beds, threatening to kill them unless they met his sexual demands.
"Although these terrible crimes were committed over a considerable period, with breaks between offences, they amount to a war on women," Judge Gerald Gordon told Oliver. "You subjected them to what can only be described as torture to satisfy your drug-induced lust."
Unemployed Oliver, from Hornsey, north-east London, admitted one charge of rape and four of indecent assault involving women living mainly in the Islington/Camden area of north London between 1991 and 1995.
"Inevitably your conduct to your victims has had the profoundest effect on them and their lives have been changed forever and probably ruined by your behaviour," the judge said.
Adding that he had a duty to protect women, he jailed Oliver for life for the rape and for seven years for the assaults. He ordered that the sentences should run concurrently.
Oliver's last victim was a 36-year-old American lawyer who was attacked while staying with a friend.
The woman described in a fax to the court the effect the assault had had on her. She said that before the attack she was calm and secure but that now she was afraid to be alone, frequently anxious and feared that she might have contracted some infection.
"The shock and rage I felt wondering whether this random attack might take my life are beyond description," she stated.
Oliver had woken her during the night, lunging at her before laying on top of her. He threatened to kill her and was holding a long metal instrument in his hand. After the assault he put a pillow over her head and warned her not to move before escaping.
Oliver attacked his first victim - a journalist in her 50s - when she was in her bed while her husband and daughter were away and her son was asleep in another room. Wearing a stocking mask, he got in through an open window on a balcony, crouched over her, was polite and promised not to hurt her, then said he had a friend with him who was holding a gun to someone's head in the next room. He then raped her.
Oliver also took property from his victims. He admitted burglary and was jailed for five years - again to run concurrently with the other sentences.
David Christie, for the defence, said Oliver was a different man when not on drugs and could not now recollect carrying out the attacks.
"He feels real remorse for the offences and disbelieves he could do such terrible things. He presents as a very mild mannered young man. He would like to say to all his victims he has most extreme remorse for the stress he has caused them."Reuse content