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16 June 2011, 10:04
A Hartlepool man's been handed an indefinite prison sentence today after admitting rape
Following a British Transport Police investigation, 31 year old Michael Preston of Lizard Walk, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to rape, attempted rape, and grievous bodily harm at Teesside Crown Court.
He was given an indefinite sentence and must serve a minimum of six and a half years for rape and six and a half years for GBH - to run concurrently - before being considered for parole.
Preston met his victim on Monday 7 March in Middlesbrough town centre, before leading her to a rail yard close to Stockton Road. He then broke into the rail yard and took the woman to a disused railway freight carriage, where he demanded sexual intercourse.
When she refused, Preston turned aggressive and slapped her across the face. As she tried to escape, he dragged her back, picked up a metal bar located close by, and began to hit her across the face. He then raped her and attempted to rape her anally.
After the attack Preston continued to hit her with the metal bar as she tried to flee. Leaving his victim for dead, Preston then ran from the scene.
The victim, who was unconscious for some time, came round, and managed to stagger to a nearby centre where she raised the alarm. She was taken to hospital later that night suffering from a fractured skull and multiple fractures to her nose, cheek and jaw. Her hands were also badly damaged where she had attempted to protect herself.
British Transport Police (BTP) launched an investigation into the incident and searched the scene. Despite Preston's attempts to destroy the crime scene by setting fire to the carriage, bloodstains were discovered and the metal bar used in the attack was also recovered.
Following an intensive man hunt involving BTP and Cleveland Police, Preston handed himself into Hartlepool Police Station on Saturday, 12 March, and was consequently arrested and remanded in custody.
He initially denied being involved in the incident, but when forensic analysis of his clothing revealed the victim's blood, Preston was placed directly in the frame and he pleaded guilty.
Today in court, the judge said this was one of the worst rape cases he'd seen in court. He commented preston would likely have received an 18 year sentence if the he'd pleaded not guilty and the case had gone to trial.
Preston was also placed on the sex offenders register.