A dangerous man who kidnapped and raped a lone female as she walked home has been jailed.
Desmond Atumkeze, 23 (23.03.97), of Battery Road, Greenwich, was sentenced to 15 years and two months’ imprisonment, with a further three years on extended licence, at Woolwich Crown Court on Thursday, 11 June.
Atumkeze pleaded guilty at the same court on Thursday, 19 March to two counts of rape and one count of kidnap.
The court heard that at about 20:45hrs on 8 November 2019, the 30-year-old victim was walking through a basketball court in Gallion’s Park when she heard footsteps behind her.
As she exited the basketball court, an unknown man put something into the small of her back and said: “I’ve got a gun. I’m going to kill you.”
The man stayed behind the victim and walked her to a concrete clearing next to a drained canal, which has no street lighting, near Warepoint Drive, SE28.
The man, who was wearing a ski mask, then forced the victim to remove all her clothing before raping her.
During the horrific and terrifying ordeal, the suspect made comments such as ‘I’m local’ and “I know your face, I know where you live” in an apparent move to force the victim not to go to the police.
Atumkeze kept asking the victim questions, including if she had a boyfriend and who she lived with.
The victim tried to remain calm and comply because she was afraid for her life due to the threat of a gun and the suspect telling her that he knew where she lived.
Following the assault, the suspect made the victim walk to the canal bank while still naked and instructed her to wash for 10 minutes in a large puddle, which she did in the freezing cold temperature.
The suspect then allowed the victim to get dressed while he went through her handbag, taking her headphones and mobile phone – forcing her to put her password in.
The suspect then walked the victim back to the basketball court.
She started to walk away, and when she was sure the suspect had gone, she returned home and called the police.
The victim was supported by specialist officers and was taken to a Haven where specially trained doctors took swabs.
Results from forensic testing identified Atumkeze as a suspect.
Atumkeze was arrested on Monday, 11 November and was taken to a south London police station.
He fabricated a story, telling officers he had been out for a meal in Woolwich with friends who ordered him a taxi home because of his vision problems – he told officers that he was registered blind in both eyes in 2016.
He told detectives that a woman with a buggy helped him out of the taxi and he bumped into a family friend after getting out of the cab at about 21:10hrs who helped him across the road to his home address.
He said he did not see anyone else that evening.
In his interview, he said: “I was shocked when I was arrested by the police. I was thinking this was wrong as I could not have done that.
“Due to my physical problems, I could not commit crimes. I cannot do that crime as I am blind. I am a virgin so I could not have done this.”
Atumkeze told officers he was familiar with the concrete area where the offence occurred, and he knew it did not have lighting – adding that is why he does not go there.
Atumkeze was unable to give an explanation to why his DNA was found on the victim, who he claimed to have never seen before.
Detectives examined Atumkeze’s mobile phone and found internet searches such as ‘rape kit’, ‘DNA profiling’ and ‘the importance of DNA in sexual assault.’
He also looked up sexual offences on the Crown Prosecution Service’s website.
Atumkeze was charged on Tuesday, 12 November.
Detective Constable Kara Eyre, the investigation officer from the South East Area’s Safeguarding team, said:
“Atumkeze is a dangerous individual who preyed upon a lone female and subjected her to the most horrendous ordeal where she feared for her life throughout.
“Upon his arrest, he fabricated a series of lies and tried to worm his way out of this atrocious crime.
Thankfully, the evidence we collected against Atumkeze was strong, and it resulted in him having no option but to plead guilty to his heinous crimes.
“I would like to praise the tremendous courage that the victim has shown throughout.
“Her assistance meant that we were able to gather the evidence needed to put Atumkeze behind bars where he cannot subject any other women to the same ordeal.
“Nothing can undo what Atumkeze did to the victim, but I hope today’s sentencing will give her a little bit of comfort and closure.”
The victim has been left traumatised by what happened.
She had to take four months off work following the ordeal and is having counselling.
In a statement read to the court, the victim said:
“I became terrified of going out alone. Still to this day, I avoid being alone at night outside.
“I couldn’t sleep. I would hear the slightest noise and be awake. I have become afraid of the night. I have very intense dreams now, and I wake up in a cold sweat.
“I’ve lost my independence and self-reliance. I’m not like I was before and am now more reliant on others. I’ve started suffering panic attacks and anxiety. I’ve lost weight and my appetite. I find that suddenly I will have a flashback to what happened, this causes me further anxiety.
“I’m finding it hard to trust people, especially men, even though rationally I know not all men are going to hurt me.
“I have reached out to a few friends for support as I knew this was too big for me to carry alone. It was hard talking about what happened, it made me feel uncomfortable, and it took a lot of courage, but I needed the support as well.
“I have male friends that I would go out with for a meal or the cinema.
“Now, I find it really hard to trust anyone; I don’t want physical contact. I don’t know when I’ll feel able to just go out as I did before. I find it very difficult to be close to a guy or think about being intimate. It was always my goal to get married and have a family.
“Now I worry because I cannot get close to anyone and what if this doesn’t change?”
Daniel Geller, from the CPS, said:
“This was a horrific attack on a lone female who was simply returning home from work. The victim was in fear of her life and has since been left terrified to go out alone.
“Desmond Atumkeze had shown no remorse for his actions. In fact, during police interview he claimed to be a virgin and said that he was blind, and so could not have been responsible for the rape. But faced with the DNA and phone evidence against him, Atumkeze eventually changed his mind and pleaded guilty.
“This conviction will ensure he is finally held responsible for his actions and will spend a long time in prison where he will no longer be a threat to women. I hope the victim will take some comfort from this.
“Sexual crimes are of the utmost importance to the CPS and we will prosecute offenders where there is the evidence to do so.”
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