THE notorious M25 rapist, who carried out a series of sex attacks on victims as young as 10, has died behind bars.
Antoni Imiela passed away aged 63 at HMP Wakefield on Thursday, just months after he was told he had been referred for parole.
Born in Lubeck, West Germany, to a Polish father and German mother, his family moved to the UK in 1961 and spent time in Worthing, West Sussex, before settling in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.
He was given seven life sentences with a minimum term of eight years in 2004 for a spate of horrific assaults.
In 2012, he received a further 12 years after his DNA matched the suspect in an unsolved 1987 sex attack.
The Prison Service confirmed Imiela’s death, which is not being treated as suspicious.
The Daily Mirror reported that the rapist had been suffering from heart problems.
A spokeswoman said: “HMP Wakefield prisoner Antoni Imiela died in custody on Thursday March 8 2018.
“As with all deaths in custody, there will be an independent investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.”
It emerged in January that Imiela, a railway worker from Appledore, near Ashford in Kent, was being considered for release by the Parole Board.
Between November 2001 and October 2002, the predator had waged a terrifying campaign of sex attacks against strangers across the South East, earning him the grim “M25 rapist” moniker.
Victims were grabbed and dragged into a secluded area, where they were threatened with death and beaten.
He was eventually convicted of raping four women and three girls aged from 10 to 52, with his DNA then lodged on a police database.
A cold case review into a 1987 Christmas Day sex attack found a match between the victim, 31-year-old Sheila Jankowitz, and Imiela.
Imiela was sentenced to 12 years at the Old Bailey in March 2013 after being found guilty of rape, indecent assault and another serious sex offence against the mother-of-two.
M25 rapist Antoni Imiela’s criminal past
Timeline of offences
15 November 2001 – a 10-year-old girl is kidnapped from a leisure centre in Ashford, Kent and raped in woodland nearby.
1 July 2002 – a 12-year-old girl is raped after being abducted whilst cycling in Bracknell, Berkshire.
11 July 2002 – a 30-year-old woman is raped in Earlswood, Surrey. Six hours later, a 26-year-old woman is raped on Putney Common in London.
16 July 2002 – an 18-year-old woman is raped in Goldsworth Park, Woking, Surrey.
6 August 2002 – a 52-year-old woman is raped on Wimbledon Common, London.
7 August 2002 – a 26-year-old woman is raped in Epsom, Surrey.
6 September 2002 – a 13-year-old girl is taken from her bicycle and raped in Woking, Surrey.
16 September 2002 – a 22-year-old woman is attacked in Ripley, Surrey. The attacker is bitten by her dog, and runs off.
25 October 2002 – a 14-year-old girl is abducted from Stevenage, Hertfordshire and raped at knifepoint.
21 November 2002 – a 10-year-old girl is indecently assaulted in Birmingham.
Antoni Imiela (born 1954, West Germany) is a British rapist and paedophile. He was found guilty of the rape of nine women and girls, and the indecent assault, and attempted rape of a 10-year old girl whom he repeatedly punched and throttled. The crimes took place in Surrey, Kent, Berkshire, London, Hertfordshire and Birmingham, and the press gave the fugitive the soubriquet of the M25 Rapist after the M25 motorway that passes in the vicinity of all but one of these areas.
By September 2002 Police had identified the existence of an extremely dangerous serial rapist who, an hour after one attack, had used the victim’s mobile phone to taunt her mother.
Often he approached his victims at speed from behind. If a victim resisted they were punched in the face; he also carried a knife.
He was also dubbed the “summer rapist” and the “trophy rapist” as he sometimes stole items of clothing having forced the victim to undress.Victims were black, white and Asian.
Kent Police and Surrey Police launched a joint investigation codenamed Operation Orb. and Imiela was finally caught with the use of DNA profiling.
Once police had his DNA they launched a public appeal for information which resulted in a woman coming forward who expressed suspicion about her neighbour.
A DNA swab test was carried out on the individual, Antoni Imiela, which enabled police to link him to the attacks. He was subsequently arrested.
On 4 March 2004, he was sentenced to seven life sentences at Maidstone Crown Court for the crimes. He is currently incarcerated at Wakefield Prison in Yorkshire.
On 18 October 2010, Imiela was charged with the rape, indecent assault and buggery of a 29 year old woman, Sheila Jankowitz, on 25 December 1987 in Forest Hill, south east London, following a case review using new forensic techniques.
The victim’s interview with police had been recorded and although she has since died, Imiela appeared at City of Westminster Magistrates Court on 1 November 2010 and subsequently at Southwark Crown Court on 7 January 2011 to answer the charges.
On Monday 12 March 2012, court proceedings against Imiela for the Christmas Day rape in 1987 began at the Old Bailey.
The statement made by the late Sheila Jankowitz was read to the court by the Prosecutor QC Hearnden. This was followed by the testimony and cross-examination of the victim’s mother-in-law, Jill Stevens.
On the following day Erwin Jankowitz, the widower of Sheila Jankowitz, told the Old Bailey that his wife had told him that she had heard him pass by but Imiela had his hand over her mouth and threatened to kill her if she tried to call out for help.
Links to the Billie-Jo Jenkins murder
Click photo for full cold case profile on Billie-Jo
Sion Jenkins’ family home was in Hastings where she was murdered. Imeila lived 20 miles away and had several friends and aquaitances in the Sussex town
Billie-Jo had revealed to friends she was being stalked by a man wearing a leather jacket from December 1996. According to Imiela’s neigbours, the killer wore a black leather jacket at the same time.
Imiela, who was known to have been a sex offender since 1987, lived 20 miles away from Billie-Jo’s home and had friends living in Hastings at the time she was murdered.
He was reportedly obsessed with girls around Billie-Jo’s age and often used improvised weapons in his violent attacks. Billie Jo was bludgeoned to death with an 18in iron tent spike.
In addition Imiela once placed a bin liner over the head of one of his victims and a small piece of bin liner was discovered in Billie-Jo’s nostrils.
Cold case solved
Imiela was found guilty of the serious sexual assault of Jankowitz on 22 March 2012 and was sentenced to a further 12 years in prison
Antoni Imiela, the convicted sex attacker known as the M25 rapist, became involved with crime as a teenager.
The 57-year-old was sent to Borstal at the age of 15 when he was locked up for robbery.
A series of further brushes with the law followed for German-born Imiela.
He was born in Lubeck, West Germany, in 1954 to a Polish father, a soldier, and German mother, and spent part of his early childhood in a displaced people’s camp as his parents were both refugees.
The family moved to the UK in 1961 and spent time in Worthing, West Sussex, before eventually settling in Newton Aycliffe in north-east England. His parents split up a few years after arriving in the UK.
In the 1980s he entered into a relationship with a woman he had first met as a teenager and the two had a son together. The relationship later broke down and in February 1987, after Imiela lost his job as a plasterer, he began a series of armed robberies across England.
The jury in his latest trial heard that he knew he was facing a lengthy jail sentence for armed robbery when he attacked the woman in south-east London in the early hours of Christmas Day 1987.
Two weeks after the attack, he handed himself in to police for the robbery spree and was eventually jailed for 14 years.
After his release from prison in 1996, he moved to the village of Appledore, in Kent and tried a string of odd jobs, including running a bric-a-brac stall in nearby Rye, East Sussex, before finding work on the railways.
Five years after his release he began a campaign of rapes across the south of England on victims as young as 10.
He would snatch his victims where they were walking, drag them into a secluded area and rape them – exactly as he had to the woman he attacked in London more than a decade before.
Railway workers recalled that he would brag to them about his use of prostitutes – although it later emerged that some of the stories might actually have been about rape victims.
One colleague said that shortly before Imiela’s arrest for the seven rapes, he saw him at St Pancras railway station in London, where he boasted that he “went with this young girl and she looked only about 12”.
A few days earlier, Imiela had driven to Birmingham and kidnapped a 10-year-old girl at knife point before putting her through a five-hour sex ordeal in his car. He also suggested to another colleague – who had no idea his fellow railway worker was the rapist – that the little girl might have “deserved it”.
Darren Arnold, who had just read a newspaper article about the rape, commented that – as a father himself – he would kill the rapist if his child had been the victim. Imiela replied: “Maybe she deserved it.”
During his trial for the 1987 rape, Imiela spent most of his time giving evidence in his defence in tears, saying he had “made love” to her.
In the Old Bailey trial, when asked if some people thought he had a German accent on certain words, he said: “Yes. Green, grass, rape.”
But his temper flared during cross examination, when he told prosecutor Richard Hearnden: “You’ve got the vilest mind because you’re the professional person, you’re educated, you’ve had all the advantages yet you’re prepared to twist things to get a conviction.”
Imiela tried to portray himself as innocent and he has never confessed to his crimes.
But after the Maidstone trial in 2004 it was revealed that he had written to his son and said: “I cannot control my sexual urges. “I’m a man, you must understand that sometimes you have no control over your impulses.”