Leeds Rapist Jailed For At Least 14 Years

20 October 2015, 11:26

Zdenko Turtak

A man who raped and badly beat an 18-year-old woman in Leeds has been sentenced to 14 years in prison

More than 100 West Yorkshire Police officers worked on the case - which ended in an international manhunt that saw Turtak eventually extradited back to Leeds to face justice.

An 18-year-old woman had been stood at a bus stop in Beeston Road at about 10.40pm on Friday, March 6th, when she was grabbed from behind and dragged into a nearby garden. 

Hidden from view behind a large hedge, she was clubbed over the head 18 times with a rock and, as the police put it, 'brutally' raped.

Her ordeal lasted eight minutes and when it was over the attacker calmly walked away leaving her for dead.

Despite the savage nature of the attack, the victim managed to get to her feet and stagger into the street where passers-by eventually came to her aid and the police were alerted.

She was rushed to hospital for treatment to her injuries - which included a fractured skull - and remained there for more than a week.

She had been wearing a hijab headscarf and had the hood of her coat up and it's believed these extra layers cushioned the blows and saved her from more serious head injuries.

Detectives from West Yorkshire Police's Homicide and Major Enquiry Team (HMET) were immediately notified and launched a major investigation.

Unusually, the whole attack had been captured on a private CCTV camera overlooking the garden. Although the footage was not of sufficient quality to identify the offender, it gave investigators a disturbing eye-witness insight into the prolonged and violent nature of the attack. 

The shocking nature of the crime and the release of the CCTV footage generated widespread media coverage which captured the public's interest. The appeal became a major focus on social media and this set the scene for the heightened public concern that remained throughout the investigation.

A full DNA profile had been recovered from the victim but there was no match on the UK database.

The victim described her attacker as being aged in his early twenties and Asian, Pakistani or Middle Eastern. This description was later widened to include Mediterranean and Eastern European.

Given the potential for the offender to be from outside the UK, a request was made via Interpol for the DNA profile to be checked against police databases around the world.

Work with specialist offender profilers from the National Crime Agency suggested the attacker was likely to live locally. As it would later be established, Turtak had been staying with his brother just a few minutes' walk from the scene at the time of the attack.

A targeted DNA swabbing exercise was launched that saw officers visiting addresses in zones radiating out from the scene to request voluntary mouth swabs from any males living there that fitted the general description of the offender.

Over the course of the investigation they visited 2,644 addresses and took 620 elimination swabs from males aged 18 to 30. A total of 1,307 lines of enquiry were generated during the investigation; 176 statements taken, 98 officers' reports created; and 542 messages generated, mainly information from members of the public.

Detectives had trawled CCTV in the area and began to build up a picture of the attacker's movements as he walked from the Holbeck area to the scene and further media appeals were made.

It would later be found that Turtak actually left the UK for Slovakia via Dover on March 27th.

It is believed the two elements that caused him to flee the country were the release of the CCTV images of him in Burley Road in his distinctive green hoody and the fact that his brother had been spoken to by officers and had his DNA swabbed when they called at his flat as part of their enquiries in the area. He offered no information about his brother's existence when asked and his DNA was not a match to the suspect profile.

Looking at the known characteristics of the offender, they pored over a map of the world and ranked the countries he was most likely to come from before contacting the police attachés in the British embassies in those countries. Among the countries targeted was Slovakia where the police came back towards the end of May to say they had a DNA match to the Beeston rapist's profile.

Zdenko Turtak's DNA had been taken when he was arrested some years before for a burglary at the large steelworks next to the Roma settlement he lived at in Velka Ida, in the Kosice region.

Through close co-operation with the Slovakian police, officers were able to establish that Turtak had returned to Velka Ida and was living there.

With the net closing in, the investigation team presented their evidence to a district judge at Leeds Magistrates Court and were granted a European Arrest Warrant for Turtak.

The Slovakian police were notified of the warrant and Turtak was arrested in Velka Ida and taken into custody.

He was transferred to prison in Bratislava to await the outcome of the court process around extradition.

On July 6th, the Slovakian authorities notified West Yorkshire Police that Turtak could be extradited back to the UK.

They flew him back to Liverpool where a police van transported him to the custody suite at Leeds District Headquarters, in Elland Road.

West Yorkshire Police have also released a video of the entire extradition process, once they'd tracked down Turtak.



While the victim had been recovering in hospital after the attack she told officers of an unusual and distinctive smell that she had been unable to get out of her nose and mouth.

While HMET officers were working with police in Slovakia, they were told that the 'drug of choice' among some Roma youth was toluene - a potent chemical used in glue and paint thinners which is sniffed for intoxicating effects.

Their Slovakian colleagues bought the officers a bottle of the main type of toluene used there, which was brought back to the UK and the victim confirmed it was the same distinctive smell.

Users often carry a rag soaked in the substance or apply it to their sleeve to sniff.

It is believed Turtak had been sniffing Toluene as he stalked women around Leeds city centre and in the moments leading up to the attack where he put his hand over the victim's mouth.

Enquiries also showed that Turtak had been living in Leeds for various periods over the last four years but had never come to the attention of the police or other authorities and had been working in cash-in-hand jobs, mainly car washes. Even when his identity was known there was very little information on record about him.

He had spent most of his life in Velka Ida. His criminal record there showed he had been arrested four times for burglary and served two sentences in youth custody. He had no record for sexual offences.

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