A VIOLENT rapist who launched a terrifying attack on a young student before beating a brave stranger who came to her rescue is today behind bars – thanks to a selfie.

Shumel Ahmed hid in bushes ready to pounce on the 19-year-old who he subjected to a severe beating before raping her and threatening to kill her as she screamed desperately for help.

It was only thanks to the bravery of another student walking past who rushed to her rescue having heard her “blood-curdling screams” that she was able to get away.

But little did 21-year-old Ahmed know that a selfie he had taken on his own phone would be the key to getting him jailed.

Southampton Crown Court heard how the Southampton University student was walking home from a night out with friends in Southampton when she was grabbed round the neck and dragged backwards into some bushes on Portswood Road, at around 1am, on February 26.

Just yards from his own home, Ahmed punched her in the head repeatedly as she screamed for help and then threatened to kill her if she didn’t stop.

Prosecutor Rachel Robertson said: “She knew if she struggled it would get worse. She lay there praying for help. She said ‘I won’t tell anyone, just don’t kill me’.”

She added: “Her prayers to some degree were answered when she heard someone saying ‘what’s going on’.”

That was another student from the university who was also on his way home after a night out.

As he came to her aid, Ahmed started beating him, giving the teenager a chance to make her escape.

Ahmed, of Portswood Road, demanded money and a mobile phone from his male victim, who managed to get up, hit his attacker and fled.

She suffered several injuries including a hairline fracture to her jaw and the male suffered a chipped tooth, concussion and a black eye.

Officers were quickly on the scene, having been alerted to residents who had heard her scream and set up a cordon.

But within just 90 minutes of the attack Ahmed had been arrested after he was spotted returning to the scene by the officer guarding the cordon.

When officers searched through his phone they found a selfie of Ahmed wearing the same baseball cap found at the scene, giving officers enough evidence before forensic came back to charge him and keep him off the streets.

The court heard how forensic tests later found both Ahmed’s and the rape victims DNA on the hat (see below) and her DNA in his underpants.

Ms Robertson also told how shortly before the attack, a couple driving on Portswood Road had seen a man, matching Ahmed’s description chasing another woman, who was running. They felt so concerned they stopped to offer her a lift home.

Ms Robertson added: “We can say the running lady was extremely fortunate.”

Defending Ahmed, Christopher Bauer said the defendant, who had no previous convictions for sexual assault, did show remorse and had pleaded guilty early on.

Sentencing Ahmed to 14 years in prison -10 years for rape and four years to run consecutively for assault with intent to rob, Judge Gary Burrell said it was frightening attack which has had a physical and psychological effect on both victims.

Speaking about the student who intervened, he added: “Goodness knows what would have happened if he hadn’t because you were beating that girl up very badly and she sustained some very bad injuries.”

Stating the importance of the selfie after the sentencing, Detective Sergeant Paul Harrison, said: “This was a pivotal piece of evidence that allowed us to charge him before forensic evidence became available, making the streets of Southampton a safer place to be within 24 hours.

“I would like to pay tribute to the bravery of our female victim, who was subject to the worst possible ordeal but still found the strength and courage to keep shouting and screaming which alerted witnesses to what was happening.

“We are also very grateful to our male victim who didn’t think twice before stepping in and confronting Ahmed during the horrifying attack.

“The work of all involved in this investigation has resulted in this dangerous man being taken off our streets.”