June 2006

‘Lock me up’ sex attacker given life-long sentence

A teenage sex predator who begged to be locked up before he succeeded in raping someone could potentially spend the rest of his life in prison.

Christopher Bates, who was branded a danger to society after he tried to rape a student, was given a potentially life-long sentence yesterday after it was successfully argued he was treated too leniently at Teesside Crown Court.

Bates, 17, of Park Lane, Middlesbrough, had already tried to rape a five-year-old girl when he attacked an 18-year-old Teesside University student, in December last year, in the town’s Park Road North.

When he was arrested, he told police he had fantasised about raping women and begged them to lock him up before he hurt someone “very badly”.

In February, Bates was given a three-year custodial sentence at Teesside Crown Court and the judge ordered that his period of licence be extended for a further two years upon his release.

But lawyers for England and Wales’ most senior law officer, the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, challenged that sentence at the Court of Appeal yesterday.

Three Appeal Court judges heard that the sentence was “unduly lenient” and Bates should have been been given an indefinite term of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP).

A relatively new punishment, an IPP is similar to a life-term and those serving it are only released if they can persuade the Parole Board they are no longer a danger to the public.

Lord Justice Hooper, sitting with Mr Justice Penry-Davey and Mr Justice Walker, said it was plain an IPP should have been imposed on Bates at crown court.

The judge said the teenager had lain in wait and attacked the student in the early hours of the morning as she returned to her halls after a night out with friends.

He dragged her to nearby bushes and, after a lengthy struggle pinned his victim to the floor and tried to rip off her underwear.

The student managed to grab his genitals, making him scream in pain, and escaped more than once during the 40-minute ordeal  

Ignoring her pleas for him to stop, he eventually ran off when some male students returned to the halls.

Lord Justice Hooper said Bates’ victim was left hysterical by what had happened, and in various reports, compiled by the probation service, he was described as highly likely to re-offend.

Would-be rapist jailed for sex attack on student

A female student was dragged into bushes and subjected to a terrifying sex attack in which a man tried to rape her, a court heard yesterday.

The 18-year-old Teesside University student had got out of a taxi and was walking to a friend’s flat in a halls of residence when she was pounced upon by Christopher Bates.

Bates, who later admitted to police that he had been thinking about carrying out such an attack for some time, ran after the teenager and rugby-tackled her to the floor as she crossed Park Road North, Middlesbrough.

The victim, who had been drinking with friends on December 16 last year, was pushed into bushes, said Richard Bennett, prosecuting, at Teesside Crown Court.

She kicked and scratched Bates, who then sat astride her, pinning her wrists to the ground, and attempted to rape her.

But the student grabbed his genitals, making him scream in pain, and kicked him in the jaw.

During the 40-minute ordeal, she managed to escape on more than one occasion, but was dragged back and assaulted, including being hit in the face.

The attack only ended when three male students walked past and Bates – described as a dangerous young offender – ran off.

The 17-year-old, of Park Lane, Middlesbrough, who had a previous conviction for indecent assault, was captured on security cameras as he left the scene and was later picked out in an identity parade.

Robin Turton, mitigating for Bates, who admitted attempted rape, said he realised that he needed help.

Jailing him for three years and extending his licence period for a further two, Judge Les Spittle said the attack was not opportunist, but deliberately planned.

He said: “Had this young woman not shown the resourcefulness and bravery she did, the offence (of rape) would have been committed.”

Bates would have to register as a sex offender indefinitely, the judge said.