Sudanese asylum-seeker who dragged women into cemetery and assaulted them is sentenced to 16 years in prison

The sexual predator had waited for the women to walk by him late at night and then dragged them into the cemetery on Spring Bank, Hull, East Yorkshire

                            Sudanese asylum-seeker who dragged women into cemetery and assaulted them is sentenced to 16 years in prison
(Source : Police Department)

An asylum seeker from Sudan who was arrested for raping a student and then trying to rape a mother in the exact same cemetery has been sentenced to 16 years behind bars after confessing to the crimes in court.

21-year-old Ishaq Al-Noor was the man behind the "almost identical" attacks on the women that took place in June and November 2017. He had moved to the UK as an asylum seeker only three years ago. The sexual predator had waited for the women to walk by him late at night and then dragged them into the cemetery on Spring Bank, Hull, East Yorkshire.

When the charge of rape was being read to him in the Hull Crown Court, Al-Noor, with the help of his interpreter, said: "Guilty. Yes, I did that. Why not?" He then casually replied to the attempted rape charge with: "Yes, guilty." Al-Noor will be deported from the country once he completes his jail term.

Prosecutor John Thackray read the victim impact statement on behalf of the student, who was just 17-years-old at the time of the attack, and they said: "When he assaulted me, he might as well have taken my future, my sense of self, my security, and stomped on it. It shattered my parents' perspective of their little girl, something no parent should have to go through. The guilt is still with me 12 months later. The horror in my mum's voice when she asked me through the phone 'Has somebody hurt you?' — it broke my heart. Having to sit there and recite the entire assault to a police officer in front of my parents turned me inside out. I have always been a high-achieving student. I had ambition; I knew exactly where my future was headed for."

The victim said that her attendance and focus in school dropped when she went back to studying after the incident. She mentioned that she is now filled with paranoia and guilt after the attack and that she suffers from sleep paralysis. She said in the statement: "Long days and longer nights lead to self-hate." The victim also added that she had begun to "really despise myself", reported the Daily Mail.

She said: "I hated myself with an intensity that scares me even now. I write letters about depression and suicide and leave them out in my room in the hope my parents would find it and see it as crying for help and get me some help."

The victim also stressed that she is now overcome with anxiety even around people she had been comfortable with before. She said: "I've given up for myself completely. For a long time I was paranoid I'd run into him. It wasn't something I did. I didn't give consent. I didn't even give him a reason. I made it very clear I didn't want intercourse. I said 'No'. Through his actions he conveyed the message my 'No' was not important, and my body and soul were not worth the value that every human being deserves. My body was violated."

The young woman's mother had described her daughter before she was sexually assaulted as "free-spirited, open-minded, kind, polite, compassionate" and "beautiful inside and out". She said: "My free-spirited daughter is now vulnerable. She feels vulnerable but still won't talk about it with anybody." 

When it comes to the second woman whom Al-Noor had tried to rape, she said that, initially, this year was going to be "my year" and that she and her partner were planning to move to a new house, celebrate family milestones, and have a "fresh start". She said that she has tried to make her own life after the incident. She and her partner went to the court for the sentencing to see Al-Noor receive his verdict.

The woman described the attack as being "vicious" and "the closest I have been to being murdered. I don't know how I managed to fight with him. I was intoxicated, two minutes away from safety, shouting and screaming whilst he took me off my feet." She said: "I was screaming 'No! Please stop! No!' I thought I was going to be stabbed. He threw me to the ground and dragged me to the cemetery. He didn't say anything in the graveyard. He just forced himself on me." The woman said she had felt "worthless" and "disgusting" and that she kept thinking that "if only I hadn't gone out drinking. If only this, if only that". 

While sentencing Al-Noor, Judge Simon Jack spoke of the victims: "They should be very proud of themselves. We in the courts know that it is a real ordeal to go through the process of complaining about rape and to face the prospect of having to give evidence before a group of strangers. But without women who have the courage to do that we would be unable to bring people like you to justice. The two women who have complained can have the satisfaction of knowing that they have protected others from you." 

Al-Noor lived on Pendrill Street in West Hull, for the three years that he was an asylum seeker. He needed the expertise of one of the very few interpreters in the country who could speak his particular dialect of Sudanese. The interpreter, Claire Holmes, said: "This defendant came to the UK as an asylum seeker three years ago to work."

Detective Chief Inspector Craig Nicholson from Humberside Police's Protecting Vulnerable People Unit, said in a statement after the hearing: "The victims, in this case, have shown immense bravery in coming forward to report these offenses to us."