“The defendant took something away from me that I feel I will never be able to get back – that thing I refer to is my life.”
Those were the tragic words of the victim of a brutal rape and physical attack, as her attacker was jailed for 12 years.
A powerful victim impact statement was read out at Teesside Crown Court, as teenage rapist Meron Zerezeghi was given a 12 year prison sentence for his attack on the young woman in Thornaby.
The victim watched via video link, as the sentencing unfolded on Wednesday.
An impact statement was read out by prosecutor David Lamb, outlining how the rape had changed the woman’s life.
It said: “The pain I felt that night from the violence I was subjected to and the threat I received with the use of a knife, I never want to think about in this lifetime. I don’t have words to describe how I feel.”
She added: “The emotions I feel, anger, sadness, embarrassment and hate are all still raw.
“On occasions I sit alone and try to take in what has happened to me, but I cannot and I don’t think I ever will be able to.”
The court heard how she contracted an infection as a result of the rape and had to take medication to treat it.
The statement said: “At the hospital my dignity was destroyed. Doctors, nurses and police officers could see parts of me that even the closest people to me have never seen. I guess I will never really understand why or how this has happened.”
She added: “They say time is a great healer but I am sure I will never forget.”
‘Barrage of violence’
Zerezeghi made unwanted sexual advances towards the woman in the bedroom in a Thornaby house, then attacked and raped her.
She told police he pulled a knife from his sock and threatened her with the knife and a bottle of wine.
He said: “If you’re not sleeping with me, I’m going to kill you.
“Do whatever I want. I’m going to kill you and I’m going to kill myself.”
Prosecutor David Lamb said: “This defendant clearly was not going to take no for an answer.”
When she tried to leave the room, he launched a 40-minute attack leaving the woman semi-conscious in the early hours of March 17.
Mr Lamb said the boy repeatedly punched her, grabbed her neck, dragged, headbutted and strangled her, held a knife to her throat, pinned her to the floor, ripped her clothing, sexually assaulted and raped her.
17-year-old Zerezeghi was given a 12 year prison sentence after he was convicted by a jury of rape, causing grievous bodily harm with intent, sexual assault, making a threat to kill and perverting the course of justice.
He was put on the sex offenders register and made a restraining order preventing him from contacting the victim for life.