A SOUTHAMPTON man who violently attacked and beat a woman in Bournemouth's Lower Gardens has been found guilty of rape and grievous bodily harm.

A jury at Winchester Crown Court took just three hours to convict Luke West after hearing how his terrified victim thought she was going to die during the attack.

He was jailed for a total of 16 years yesterday.

Daily Echo:

The 40-year-old cleaner was walking to work when she was attacked by West, 29, from Warren Avenue.

The attack took place at around 5am on November 13 last year.

Police were alerted after the woman was found with horrific injuries.

Prosecutor Robert Bryan told the jury that Dorset Police received a 999 call at 6.11am 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.”

She 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 victim was found by a colleague who began searching for her after she had not arrived at work and did not answer her phone.

She 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."

“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 West, 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.

Detective Inspector Wayne Seymour, of Dorset Police’s Major Crime Investigation Team (MCIT), 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.

“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.”