A FORMER New Forest man has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for the brutal rape of a woman as she walked through a park.
Luke West (29) was found guilty by a jury at Winchester Crown Court following an 11-day trial in which he was also convicted of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent on his victim, a cleaner in her 40s.
She had been walking through Lower Gardens in Bournemouth on her way to work early one morning last November when West from behind grabbed her around the neck and then raped her.
The attack was so violent the court was told she thought she was going to die. The victim was found a short time later, naked and badly injured.
She was treated in hospital for a fracture to her eye socket, and significant bruising to her face, neck, chest and arms.
A major investigation was launched by Dorset Police, which included an extensive trawl of CCTV footage, and a man seen running away from the area was identified as a suspect.
The following evening officers stopped a man matching the description of the suspect. He gave a false name but was arrested and confirmed to be West, who was living at an address in Durley Chine Road in the town. Detectives also obtained DNA evidence linking West to the offence.
West denied both allegations of rape and causing grievous bodily harm but the jury took just three hours to convict him on both counts.
In 2015 West, who was then living in Dinham Road, Ashley, had been jailed for four years for holding his girlfriend at knifepoint and threatening to kill her. He punched and bit her because he believed she had been sleeping with other men.
West, who had previously lived in Cadnam, had earlier convictions for assault and robbery.
After the verdict and sentencing at Winchester, Det. Insp. Wayne Seymour, of Dorset Police’s major crime investigation team, said: “This was a despicable offence, which saw Luke West subject his victim not only to a terrifying sexual attack but also a brutal physical assault.
“While it can be of little consolation to the victim in this case, thankfully incidents of this nature are extremely rare in this area and I am grateful to all the officers and police staff who worked tirelessly on this investigation so that we were able to swiftly identify West as the suspect and apprehend him.”
He added: “Finally, I would like to praise the victim for the incredible bravery she has shown in supporting the investigation.
“She has been through a truly horrific ordeal and for her to have shown the courage to give evidence at trial, and help bring this dangerous offender to justice, I hope will inspire others who have been subjected to such terrible offences and help give them the strength to come forward.”