A Sudanese refugee has been sentenced to 16 years jail for rape and attempted rape after he lay in wait for victims before dragging them into a graveyard in Hull, which was named a City of Sanctuary last year.
Ishaq Al-Noor raped one woman in a “vicious” attack in June last year, which Hull Crown Court heard caused his 17-year-old victim to attempt suicide, before launching an “almost identical” assault in November on a mother, in the same cemetery.
The 21-year-old, who is believed to have entered Britain three years ago to seek asylum, “thinks of himself as a peaceful man, a Muslim who prays and fasts and is not a bad person”, said Claire Holmes, mitigating.
But Judge Simon Jack said Al-Noor posed a “high risk” to women, after the court heard he had engaged his victims in conversation late at night “before dragging them off the pavement and into [Spring Bank] cemetery, where he then raped one of them and tried to rape the other”.
“These were not chance encounters,” said prosecutor John Thackray, explaining that “the defendant was deliberately waiting for them, waiting in that area for vulnerable females late at night with the intention to attack them and rape them”.
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In the early hours of June 4 last year, Al-Noor approached the teenage victim as she was walking home from a party, reported the Hull Daily Mail.
He was “laughing and joking”, the court heard, when “without any warning he grabbed her by the neck and pulled her backwards into the cemetery. She tried to hold onto the railings but without success.
“Despite her best efforts she was unable to hold on and he dragged her backwards into the cemetery,” where he forced her to the ground and raped her, ignoring the teenager’s cries of pain and pleading for him to stop, Mr Thackray said.
Describing the second attack, which took place in the early hours of November 16, the prosecution said the woman was pulled across the road by Al-Noor, telling the court: “She was crying and shouting and he was covering her mouth as he dragged her into the same cemetery.”
The asylum seeker threw his victim to the ground and attempted to rape her, but she was able to free herself in the struggle while “thinking of her children and shouting to him about her children,” the court heard.
The first woman said she had tried to take her own life in the aftermath of the attack, disclosing in a victim statement read to the court: “When he assaulted me he might as well have taken my future, my sense of self, my security, and stomped on it.”
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According to the Daily Mail, Al-Noor admitted, “Guilty. Yes, I did that. Why not?” in response to the rape charge, speaking through one of only a handful of interpreters in Britain with the skills to translate his particular Sudanese dialect.
Speaking after her client admitted the charges, Ms Holmes had said the Sudanese migrant “came to the UK as an asylum seeker three years ago to work”, which prompted Judge Jack to ask questions about Al-Noor’s activities since he entered the country.
“How did he arrive from the Sudan? Does the Border Agency know anything about him? I would like to know what the Border Agency do or do not know about him, how did he arrive and what’s been going on with him since he arrived,” the judge said.
In June last year, Hull was declared a City of Sanctuary at an official ceremony celebrating its designation as a “recognised place of welcome and safety” for “refugees and asylum seekers”.
Speaking at the event in Hull Minster, campaigner Steve Ibbetson said: “The positive contribution refugees have made to our city cannot be overstated. The vibrancy that increased diversity has brought to the city has contributed greatly to our current high profile.”