England

M25 rapist Antoni Imiela's criminal past

Antoni Imiela
Image caption Imiela carried out a series of rapes across south-east England from 2001

Antoni Imiela, the convicted sex attacker known as the M25 rapist, became involved with crime as a teenager.

The 57-year-old was sent to Borstal at the age of 15 when he was locked up for robbery.

A series of further brushes with the law followed for German-born Imiela.

He was born in Lubeck, West Germany, in 1954 to a Polish father, a soldier, and German mother, and spent part of his early childhood in a displaced people's camp as his parents were both refugees.

The family moved to the UK in 1961 and spent time in Worthing, West Sussex, before eventually settling in Newton Aycliffe in north-east England.

His parents split up a few years after arriving in the UK.

In the 1980s he entered into a relationship with a woman he had first met as a teenager and the two had a son together.

The relationship later broke down and in February 1987, after Imiela lost his job as a plasterer, he began a series of armed robberies across England.

The jury in his latest trial heard that he knew he was facing a lengthy jail sentence for armed robbery when he attacked the woman in south-east London in the early hours of Christmas Day 1987.

Image caption Imiela was born in Lubeck, Germany, in 1954 to refugee parents

Two weeks after the attack, he handed himself in to police for the robbery spree and was eventually jailed for 14 years.

After his release from prison in 1996, he moved to the village of Appledore, in Kent and tried a string of odd jobs, including running a bric-a-brac stall in nearby Rye, East Sussex, before finding work on the railways.

Five years after his release he began a campaign of rapes across the south of England on victims as young as 10.

He would snatch his victims where they were walking, drag them into a secluded area and rape them - exactly as he had to the woman he attacked in London more than a decade before.

Railway workers recalled that he would brag to them about his use of prostitutes - although it later emerged that some of the stories might actually have been about rape victims.

One colleague said that shortly before Imiela's arrest for the seven rapes, he saw him at St Pancras railway station in London, where he boasted that he "went with this young girl and she looked only about 12".

'Deserved it'

A few days earlier, Imiela had driven to Birmingham and kidnapped a 10-year-old girl at knife point before putting her through a five-hour sex ordeal in his car.

He also suggested to another colleague - who had no idea his fellow railway worker was the rapist - that the little girl might have "deserved it".

Darren Arnold, who had just read a newspaper article about the rape, commented that - as a father himself - he would kill the rapist if his child had been the victim.

Imiela replied: "Maybe she deserved it."

Image caption Imiela was jailed for life in 2004 after being convicted of seven rapes

During his trial for the 1987 rape, Imiela spent most of his time giving evidence in his defence in tears, saying he had "made love" to her.

In the Old Bailey trial, when asked if some people thought he had a German accent on certain words, he said: "Yes. Green, grass, rape."

But his temper flared during cross examination, when he told prosecutor Richard Hearnden: "You've got the vilest mind because you're the professional person, you're educated, you've had all the advantages yet you're prepared to twist things to get a conviction."

Imiela tried to portray himself as innocent and he has never confessed to his crimes.

But after the Maidstone trial in 2004 it was revealed that he had written to his son and said: "I cannot control my sexual urges.

"I'm a man, you must understand that sometimes you have no control over your impulses."

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