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Source : 12/09/2002 Northampton Chronicle and Echo

A Jesus Fellowship member who raped a university graduate in her bedroom after breaking into her house was today starting a five-and-a-half year jail sentence.

Northampton Crown Court heard yesterday that the man had forced himself on his 21-year-old victim after she had been to a village pub celebrating her graduation.

The man, 23, who pleaded guilty to the rape, had attempted to chat up one of his victim's friends, but when she shunned his advances he turned his attentions to the new graduate.

She had gone home to bed, and after ignoring someone hammering on her front door, woke to find the man towering over her.

Maria Savvides, prosecuting, told the court the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, feared she would die when the man got on top of her and put his hand around her throat so she could not breathe.

But Sally Hickling, defending, said the man now wished he could turn the clock back and was more concerned about the victim's welfare than his own fate.

Miss Hickling said: 'He says he did not think he could stoop so low and that he could be capable of such a heinous crime.'

'He apologises most profoundly for the way he violated her and describes his action as most reprehensible.'

The court heard that as soon as the man returned to his Jesus Fellowship home at New Creation Farm in Furness Lane, Nether Heyford, he immediately confessed to what he had done, and claimed he had discredited Christianity.

Miss Hickling said: 'He retains his strong faith and connection with the church. He will be welcome back there when he comes out of prison.'

Paul Sklar, an elder with the Fellowship, said the man joined the church 18 months ago after being surrounded by trouble for most of his life.

Passing sentence, Recorder Stephen Coward told the man: 'Courts have said on many occasions it is not just what happens on the night in question, but what the victim has to live with thereafter.'

'I have read a statement made by the complainant in which she lists particular impacts the experience has had on her life.'

In sentencing, the judge gave the man credit for his guilty plea which spared his victim from reliving her ordeal in court.