The ‘M25 rapist’ had struck before. So how many more women has he attacked?

Antoni Imiela was yesterday convicted of a rape in 1987, but police fear there may be more victims

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The Independent Online

Countless more victims may have fallen prey to the infamous M25 rapist, detectives revealed today as he was convicted of yet another attack.

Click HERE to view 'M25 rapist: The trail of attacks' graphic

Antoni Imiela was found guilty of raping a woman in 1987 more than a decade before he was convicted a string of sadistic attacks on victims as young as 10.

Police admitted they feared that many more women and girls may have suffered at his hands during the 14 year gap.

“Imiela was convicted in 2004 for a series of stranger rapes across the Home Counties. It's likely that the police are unaware of all his offending. I appeal to the public, and in particular anyone who is a potential victim of his in the late 1980s or between 1996 and 2002, to come forward,” said Detective Inspector John Foulkes outside court.

“Unfortunately, the victim is no longer with us but I hope that today's verdict brings some comfort and closure for the family.”

Imiela, 57, was sentenced to 12 years for raping, indecent assault and buggery of Sheila Jankowitz in the early hours of Christmas Day. Tragically she never lived to see justice served, having died in 2006 after her life was forever changed by the rape.

The Old Bailey jury was told Imiela grabbed her off the street near her south east London flat in the early hours of Christmas Day 1987, threatening to kill the 31-year-old if she called out and punching her repeatedly when she resisted.

Fourteen years after the chilling attack, Imiela staged a series of rapes across the south of England on victims as young as 10 - earning him the sobriquet ”the M25 rapist“.

Passing sentence today, Judge John Bevan QC told him: ”I find this case saddening, not only because Sheila Jankowitz's life was blighted from at least 1990 onwards by mental illness until her murder in 2006, but I also find your approach saddening, surprising as it may seem.

“I disagree with (prosecutor) Mr (Richard) Hearnden's suggestion that you hate women, on what I have heard in this trial... you seem to me to have a dislike of humanity in general.”

He went on: “You are wholly unrepentant about your life of guns, rape and general violence and, despite having served eight years of your life sentence, you have not expressed one jot of remorse.”

Imiela was given seven life sentences in 2004 for his campaign of rapes, with a minimum term of eight years - meaning he became eligible for parole earlier this month.

His victims included girls aged 10, 13 and 14, as well as women up to the age of 52, but the jury in the latest case was not told how old they were.

Andrew Hadik, special casework lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in London, said afterwards: “This was a very serious allegation with strong evidence. It was important that it be put before a jury and that the defendant be held to account for the crimes he had committed.

”Sadly, the victim in this case died some years ago in unrelated circumstances. The absence of a key witness is not an automatic barrier to justice. The Crown Prosecution Service successfully applied to have the victim's original statement read out to ensure that the jury heard her evidence.“

Mr Hadik continued: ”This attack had a devastating effect upon the victim's life and sadly justice could not be secured whilst she was alive. However, her family have provided great assistance to this prosecution and I hope that they find some comfort in this conviction.“

Detective Constable Claire Watts said Mrs Jankowitz was so traumatised by the attack that she became a changed woman.

She said: ”Imiela was a particularly dangerous and predatory rapist, well known as the M25 rapist for the numerous offences he committed across the Home Counties.

“This latest conviction shows that his offending dates back even further.

”It is extremely sad that the victim is no longer alive to witness justice served, but I hope her family and friends will take some comfort from today's result.

“In this particular case, the victim's mental health was severely affected to such a degree that she essentially became a changed woman following the incident.”