Rapist jailed after 'cruising streets for vulnerable women'
PUBLISHED: 14:01 04 June 2019 | UPDATED: 14:43 04 June 2019
A 35-year-old man who raped a woman in a car after offering to give her a lift home in Lowestoft has been jailed for seven years.
Sentencing Ajay Rana, Judge David Goodin said he had been "cruising" the streets in the early hours of the morning seeking sexual activity.
He said: "You were cruising the streets in your friend's car actively looking for a likely partner in the form of any lone and therefore vulnerable female."
He said that by the time Rana came across his victim her consent was "immaterial" and she would forever regret her decision to accept his offer of a lift and the consequences of that decision would haunt her for the rest of her life.
Judge Goodin said that after raping the woman, Rana had taken a "trophy" photograph on his mobile phone of a stain on the passenger seat of the car where the rape had taken place.
He also commended officers involved in the police investigation which had resulted in his arrest.
Rana, formerly of May Road, Lowestoft, had denied rape but was found guilty at Ipswich Crown Court on Monday by a 10-2 majority verdict following a two-week trial.
In addition to being jailed he was ordered to sign the sex offenders' register indefinitely and he is likely to be deported.
The attack happened at around 5am on December 9, 2017 after Rana pulled up alongside the victim, who is in her 30s, and offered her a lift, saying it was cold and that he had just given a lift two other people.
She accepted his offer as he appeared genuine but at some time between 5am and 5.25am Rana stopped the car and raped her.
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She managed to get out of the car and ran to a nearby house, banging on the door to alert a woman inside, who said the victim was "hysterical, freezing cold, crying and shaking".
Giving evidence, Rana claimed that when he stopped his car she had asked him if he "wanted some fun" before later pulling him on top of her in the passenger seat.
He said that several days after having sex with the woman, he saw a news item about a woman being raped in Lowestoft and had bought a one-way ticket to India on December 13.
Within five days of the attack, Suffolk police had identified Rana as a suspect after a major investigation conducted.
A Ford Fiesta was traced and found to be registered to one of Rana's housemates. He was a named driver on the insurance and, after attending Rana's home address, officers were able to match DNA from a pair of headphones with swabs taken from the victim. Rana, however, had already left the country.
Suffolk Police began proceedings to extradite Rana from India and also issued a European Arrest Warrant, which would allow for him to be detained if he attempted to enter another European Union member state.
He was later arrested by Spanish Police in Bilbao in October 2018 after he has got a job on a ship.
Jude Durr, defending, said Rana, who has no previous convictions, had limited understanding of the "subtleties and nuances" of adult inter-personal relationships in the West.
Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger, the senior investigating officer with Suffolk Police, said: "The police investigation commenced following a calculated and sustained attack committed on an innocent victim, who has been left traumatised by the callous actions of this offender.
"The criminal justice process is never easy for victims of crime, but the victim in this case has shown bravery throughout and continues to be supported by officers and support agencies. I hope that today will bring some kind of closure and allow her to move forward positively in her life.
"This was a complicated investigation that was progressed with great haste despite the challenges presented by an offender who fled the country after the attack. The investigation team worked tirelessly over many months to ensure the individual did not escape justice and I am proud of the work they produced to reach the right outcome for the victim.
"While attacks of this nature are rare and Suffolk remains a safe county to live in, this is a further example where the Constabulary has risen to the challenges of modern policing to continue to deliver a highly tenacious and professional service for the public it serves."