Lecturer gets life for raping student while out on bail

A university lecturer who raped a young woman at knifepoint while on bail for a 24-hour sex attack on a former student was jailed for life yesterday.

Dr Shaun Farrell, 39, a former psychology lecturer at Christ Church University College in Canterbury who used to counsel rape victims, tied up and raped the ex-student three times in the first attack.

Despite being arrested for the triple rape, the lecturer was able to continue working for at least one other university while he was on bail. Seven months after the first attack, Farrell raped a 19-year-old holidaymaker on the day he was due in court in connection with the earlier case.

The family of Farrell's first victim said that they were "saddened and angry" that the lecturer had remained free to rape the second woman.

They also demanded to know how he was able to get other jobs after being dismissed from Christ Church for sexual harassment.

Farrell raped his first victim, now aged 23, during a degrading and humiliating attack over 24 hours at her home on 11 November last year. Soon after he arrived, he forced her into the bedroom, tied her up and threatened to kill her before repeatedly attacking her over the course of a day.

He threatened to post indecent photographs of her taken during the attacks and put them on the internet if she reported the attack.

After she dropped him off at a railway station, she told a friend and the police were contacted. He was charged over the attacks and bailed but failed to turn up in court. Instead he raped a second woman, a 19-year-old student from Sheffield University, as she walked along a beach near Minehead, Somerset, in June this year. He told police that he intended to kill himself, but was carrying three knives and threatened to slash the woman when he attacked her. He was arrested in hospital after slashing his wrists on the beach after the 45-minute ordeal.

Jailing him for life at Reading Crown Court yesterday, Judge Stanley Spence said: "These offences are so serious that only a life sentence can be justified. In my view you are likely to be a danger to other women."

He told Farrell, of Watchet, Somerset, who admitted the four rapes, that he subjected his victims to "appalling degradation" and would serve at least nine years before being considered for parole. The judge said that no one, not even Farrell himself, knew why he had carried out such terrifying attacks. Both women were in court yesterday. They have suffered psychological problems including flashbacks and panic attacks and are scared of going out alone.

Detective Inspector Paul Jervis, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: "These were horrendous attacks on two young women, which have left them traumatised by their ordeal.''

Speaking after the sentence, the family of the first victim, who had attempted to kill herself, said they were pleased with the length of the sentence, but were frustrated that he was free to attack a second woman.

"We entrusted our daughter's care to the staff at Christ Church University when she went to Canterbury. Dr Farrell held a position of trust there where he oversaw the pastoral care of vulnerable young people. Indeed worryingly for a time he also lived in halls of residence with students," they said.

They also questioned how he could get other higher education jobs after being dismissed from Christ Church.

The University of Buckingham, where Farrell was employed as a part-time temporary visiting lecturer on two six- month contracts from January 2002 and 2003, said it was unaware of the criminal charges. "His behaviour at the university during his employment gave no cause for concern," it said in a statement.

Buckingham, a private university of 650 predominantly foreign students, said it had obtained references for him, but could not say if any were from Christ Church. Christ Church said last night that Farrell had been employed for four years from 1997 until he was sacked after allegations of sexual harassment were made by a student. "Any reference given to any potential subsequent employer merely confirmed that he had worked at the University College and did not commend him in any way," it said.

"We extend our sympathy to the victims and their families and we continue to take our responsibilities to our students very seriously."