Rapist jailed for attacks on students

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The Independent Online

A rapist who broke into a university hall of residence and subjected a teenage student to a terrifying sex attack was jailed for at least 12 years today.

Paul Atta, 40, armed himself with a kitchen knife and walked into the 19-year-old woman's bedroom saying "Would you rather get stabbed or have sex with me?", Liverpool Crown Court heard.

Less than an hour before the attack he had fled another University of Manchester residence when a 21-year-old woman he confronted in her bedroom managed to escape and raise the alarm.

Prosecutor Dennis Watson QC said the attacks were "strikingly similar" to a conviction for rape and robbery which saw Atta jailed for 14 years in 1991.

After a week-long trial he was convicted today of two counts of rape, one of assault causing actual bodily harm, two counts of burglary and two counts of fraud by false representation, Greater Manchester Police said.

He was jailed for life by Judge Gerald Clifton and ordered to serve at least 12 years.

The trial heard the university attacks took place in the early hours of July 19 last year.

Atta broke into a hall of residence in Rusholme and went into a 21-year-old woman's bedroom.

The woman screamed and he punched her in the face.

He picked up her laptop, but dropped it and fled when she raised the alarm.

Atta then went to another hall of residence nearby and broke in through a window.

He armed himself with a knife from the kitchen and went into a 19-year-old woman's bedroom and demanded she hand over her mobile phone, bank card and laptop, saying: "If you scream I will stab you."

The defendant also told her: "Would you rather get stabbed or have sex with me?" and, when the girl told him she had no money or laptop, he said: "If you've got no cash then you can have sex with me," the trial heard.

Mr Watson said: "He then raped her. The knife was constantly in his hand or close by."

Following the rape, Atta talked to his distressed victim and mentioned he had not got over the death of his mother.

When the student asked Atta to leave, he pushed her on the bed and raped her again.

Atta forced the woman to hand over her bank card, which he used to withdraw cash at a nearby petrol station.

Detectives investigating the rape and burglary found fingerprints linking Atta to the scenes.

The rapist went on the run, sparking a five-day manhunt which ended when officers found him at a house in Old Trafford.

In a statement, Detective Constables Laura Hughes and Liz Howe, of Longsight CID said: "What Atta did to his victim has left her devastated.

"He is clearly a dangerous man who preyed on students. He obviously saw these women as easy targets and I've no doubt he broke into his first victim's flat with the intention of sexually assaulting her.

"Fortunately he is now behind bars, where he belongs, for a very long time. The streets of Manchester are now much safer.

"I would also like to pay tribute to the dignity and courage of the two victims in this case who have been nothing but cooperative and supportive to our investigation.

"We hope that today's result makes their support worthwhile and I hope they can now move on."

Atta's previous conviction for rape and robbery followed an incident in March 1990.

He forced his way into a flat occupied by an 18-year-old woman and when she told him she had no money he raped her.

He pleaded guilty to rape and robbery in January the following year.