M25 rapist's victims include 10-year-old girl, court is told

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The Independent Online

A railway worker indiscriminately terrorised and raped women and young girls in five counties before being trapped, a court was told yesterday.

In one case, ignoring a 10-year-old's "pitiful pleas", Antoni Imiela, 49, forced the child to perform lewd acts and raped her, insisting it would "only hurt for a while".

Experts had assessed that there was a billion-to-one chance that DNA from semen found on her was not Mr Imiela's, Mark Dennis said as he opened the case for the prosecution at Maidstone Crown Court yesterday.

The schoolgirl from near Mr Imiela's home in Kent was grabbed and dragged into woodland and told her legs would be broken or she would be killed if she screamed.

She was the first of five women and four girls to fall prey to his violent attacks, claimed the prosecution, as the "dangerous sexual predator" circled the M25 to select his next victim.

To one teenager he said: "I am not going to hurt you physically. This will just leave you emotionally scarred."

The maintenance worker sat in the dock as Mr Dennis told the court Mr Imiela had grabbed his victims from behind in an arm lock, their mouths covered as he dragged them into wooded areas.

Some were threatened with a knife. Those who struggled were punched in the face, the court heard. On one occasion it is alleged he asked a 26-year-old Finnish woman to say she loved him as he raped her.

"During the assaults he would, on occasions, appear quite detached. He would often want his victims to act as if they were enjoying what he was doing or show they were participating by kissing him or saying things he wanted to hear," the barrister told the jury of seven men and five women.

After allegedly attacking a 26-year-old nurse and leaving her tied up on Putney Heath, he called her mother to say he had "shagged" her daughter. When the victim's sister tried to call back on the mobile, Mr Imiela, Mr Dennis alleged, said she was a "bit tied up".

The attacks usually took place in daylight close to residential areas, bordered by playing fields and woods. "The motivation would appear to have been purely sexual, coupled with the risks he was taking and the sexual domination involved," Mr Dennis said.

While there was a big difference in the age of the victims, from 10 to 52, there were many parallels in the assaults. The victims, their hands often bound by their bras, were stripped with their shirts placed over their heads to cover their eyes. Several times the attacker praised their bodies or asked them whether they were virgins, it was claimed.

Mr Imiela was described several times by victims as powerful, middle-aged, tanned and having a North-east accent. It was claimed he would indecently assault them before raping them. Some were made to perform oral or anal sex.

After realising that he had made a "fatal mistake" by leaving DNA samples on his first victim when police started profiles of men near his home in Appledore, Kent, he made sure he used a condom and carried on, the court heard.

After the first attack in November 2001 he laid low until July 2002 before returning with ferocity, on one occasion allegedly raping two women in one day. The girls would be left naked or semi-naked, usually bound by the hands and legs and told that if they screamed he would return.

DNA from the attacks matched Mr Imiela's profile with varying degrees of certainty, Mr Dennis said. One of his fingerprints was found on a plastic bag carried by a 14-year-old, his eighth victim.

After the same schoolgirl provided a "90 per cent accurate" photofit, he was asked to provide a DNA sample.

"He was told it would take a week or so for the result. He must have realised he would be caught. Two days later, in a final act of defiance, he drove to Birmingham," Mr Dennis said.

There, it is alleged, he kidnapped a 10-year-old girl and subjected her to a five-hour ordeal of indecent assaults before giving her £10 to get a taxi home. Eleven days later, he was arrested.

Mr Imiela denies nine counts of rape. He has also pleaded not guilty to kidnap, indecent assault and attempted rape of a 10-year-old girl.

The trial continues.

The charges

Antoni Imiela is charged with the following:

* The rape of a 10-year-old girl in Ashford, Kent, on 15 November, 2001.

* The rape of a 30-year-old woman in Redhill, Surrey, on 11 July 2002.

* The rape of a 26-year-old woman on Putney Common, also on 11 July, 2002.

* Two counts of rape of an 18-year-old woman in Woking, Surrey, on 16 July 2002.

* The rape of a 52-year-old woman on Wimbledon Common on 6 August, 2002.

* The rape of a 26-year-old woman in Epsom, Surrey on 7 August, 2002.

* The rape of a 14-year-old girl near Woking, Surrey, on 6 September 2002.

* The rape of a 14-year-old girl in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, on 25 October, 2002.

* Kidnap of 10-year-old girl in Birmingham on 21 November, 2002.

* Indecent assault on a 10-year-old girl in Birmingham on 21 November 2002.

* Attempted rape of a 10-year-old girl on 21 November 2002.