Man who violently raped woman on Christmas Day dies in UK prison

Man who violently raped woman on Christmas Day dies in UK prison

The notorious 'M25 rapist', who carried out a series of sex attacks on victims as young as 10, has died behind bars in the UK.

Antoni Imiela passed away aged 63 at HMP Wakefield yesterday, just months after he was told he had been referred for parole.

He was given seven life sentences with a minimum term of eight years in 2004 for a spate of horrific assaults.

In 2012, he received a further 12 years after his DNA matched the suspect in an unsolved 1987 sex attack.

The Prison Service confirmed Imiela's death, which is not being treated as suspicious.

The Daily Mirror reported that the rapist had been suffering from heart problems.

A spokeswoman said: "HMP Wakefield prisoner Antoni Imiela died in custody on Thursday March 8 2018.

"As with all deaths in custody, there will be an independent investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman."

It emerged in January that Imiela, a railway worker from Appledore, near Ashford in Kent, was being considered for release by the British Parole Board.

Between November 2001 and October 2002, the predator had waged a terrifying campaign of sex attacks against strangers across the South East, earning him the grim "M25 rapist" moniker.

Imiela was already facing jail for armed robbery when he grabbed a woman off the street and subjected her to a violent sexual ordeal on Christmas Day.

His merciless attack on Sheila Jankowitz was a precursor to the series of violent stranger rapes that he committed more than a decade later.

Mrs Jankowitz had been to the pub with her husband Erwin on Christmas Eve in 1987 but the couple had an argument and went their separate ways.

She returned home to their Forest Hill, south London, flat to see if he was there and finding he was not, decided to go out again by herself.

As she walked towards the main road Imiela grabbed her, put his hand over her mouth, dragged her onto wasteground and sexually assaulted her, a jury was told.

He threatened her with a brick, said he would kill her and repeatedly punched her in the face.

At his trial, the Old Bailey heard that he knew he was facing a lengthy jail sentence for armed robbery when he pounced on Mrs Jankowitz in the early hours of December 25.

Two weeks later he handed himself into police for the robbery spree and was eventually jailed for 14 years.

He was released in 1996, and five years later began a terrifying campaign of rapes across the south of England.

The investigation into the M25 rapist, so-called for his string of savage attacks in the vicinity of the London Orbital, involved more than 300 police officers from six forces and cost more than £2m.

The German-born former railway worker bound, gagged and beat his victims before subjecting them to serious sexual assaults.

DNA was collected from the scenes of the crimes in Kent, west London, Hertfordshire and Surrey, but it was only when a neighbour rang Crimestoppers with suspicions about Imiela that the culprit was caught.

In March 2004, Imiela was convicted of seven rapes, the kidnap, indecent assault and attempted rape of a 10-year-old girl, leading to seven life sentences.

Born in 1954 to a Polish father, who was a soldier, and a German mother, Imiela 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 the north east of England.

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

DNA also linked the then-unsolved case of Mrs Jankowitz, who died before the 2012 conviction, to Imiela when forensic experts reviewing unsolved cases matched his profile to the attack in Sydenham, south east London.

Sentencing him to 12 years, Judge John Bevan QC said in 2012: "You are wholly unrepentant about your life of guns, rape and general violence and, despite having served eight years of your life sentence, you have not expressed one jot of remorse."

- PA

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