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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 March, 2004, 17:05 GMT
Serial rapist jailed for life
Antoni Imiela
Imiela denied all the charges against him
A former railway worker has been given seven life sentences for a series of rapes across south-east England.

Antoni Imiela, 49, of Appledore, Kent, attacked the women and girls in Kent, Surrey, west London and Hertfordshire.

He was convicted of seven rapes, and the kidnap, indecent assault and attempted rape of a 10-year-old girl in Birmingham.

The judge told Imiela: "You are a ruthless sexual predator who carefully selected where you could strike."

As well as the life sentences, Imiela was given 10 years for the kidnap, seven for the indecent assault and 12 years for the attempted rape.

Police also revealed the rapist had previous convictions for a string of robberies - and detectives called for the power to collect DNA from everyone convicted of a criminal offence.

Det Supt Colin Murray said if Imiela's genetic fingerprint had been on file, he would have been caught immediately.

He said: "Civil liberties groups would tell you that it is not appropriate, but if he had been on a national register we would have caught him straight away."

Forensic experts said that the chances of DNA samples taken from scenes of attacks coming from somebody else were one in a billion.

'Vicious rape campaign'

Imiela had denied all charges during the trial at Maidstone Crown Court.

The trial heard from all Imiela's victims - adults gave evidence from behind screens and the children were questioned via a video link.

A succession of victims told how they were stripped, bound, beaten and raped.

Throughout the trial, Imiela insisted he was innocent, claiming the police had planted incriminating fingerprint evidence - and that he had been gay for most of his life.

As he was sentenced, the judge, Mr Justice Owen, told Imiela he had been responsible for a "sustained and vicious campaign of rape".

He said Imiela had insisted that only "a beast" could have carried out the attacks.

"You were accurate in your description but you were describing yourself," the judge said.

Imiela (centre) just prior to being charged with the rapes
Imiela (centre) was born in West Germany in 1954

He told Imiela he overwhelmed his victims with force or threats to kill and said: "Most thought they would die in your hands."

"You subjected them to humiliating and degrading sexual acts culminating in rape."

He spoke of Imiela's effort to make a 13-year-old girl say she wanted sex and described it as "a grotesque parody of a consensual relationship".

As the verdicts were read out, Imiela showed no reaction while families of his victims wept and hugged each other.

During the trial, the court heard from Mr Imiela's work colleagues and his wife, Christine, whom he met in 1996.

Two charges relating to an alleged attack on an 18-year-old woman in Woking, Surrey, in July 2002, will be allowed to remain on file after the jury failed to reach a verdict.

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