A SOUTHAMPTON man accused of rape made a woman think she was going to die when she was suffocated and violently attacked as she walked through a park in the early morning, a court has heard.

Luke West, 29, of Southampton, is accused of rape and grievous bodily harm with intent against the cleaner in the attack which happened in the Bournemouth's Lower Gardens.

Robert Bryan, prosecuting, told Winchester Crown Court that Dorset Police received a 999 call at 6.11am on November 13 reporting that the woman had been “badly injured”.

He said: “The person who had been attacked was naked, badly injured and semi-conscious, she had been violently, physically assaulted and had been raped.”

Mr Bryan said that the woman suffered bruising and cuts to her face with injuries to her jaw and a fractured eye socket.

He added: “She was groaning in pain but apart from that couldn’t communicate with anyone.”

Mr Bryan said that the woman was found by a colleague who began searching for her after she had not arrived at work and did not answer her phone.

He said that the woman told police in a video interview that “someone attacked her from behind, that person grabbed her with both hands around her neck."

“She started screaming, he put his hand over her mouth and started suffocating her," Mr Bryan told the court.

“He got her to the ground and began rolling her towards the water, she tried to defend herself but she couldn’t make a noise because she was suffocating.

“All the time she thought he wanted to kill her as there were times she couldn’t breathe.

“He started hitting her face with his fists.

“She thought she was dying, she didn’t know what happened to her clothes.”

Mr Bryan said that a male was spotted on CCTV and traced as he entered a property in a nearby street.

He was later arrested after police followed a man from the property on CCTV which led them to the defendant who initially gave a false name when detained by officers.

A search by police of the hotel room where West was staying found a pair of black jeans and a jacket stained with blood which had a DNA match with the victim, Mr Bryan said.

He added that intimate swabs taken from the victim had a DNA match that was a billion times more likely to have come from the defendant than another male.

West denies the charges. The trial continues.