Soldier at Catterick Garrison brutally raped, humiliated and attacked woman while celebrating his 18th birthday

A disgraced soldier who brutally raped, humiliated and attacked a woman and told her he would kill her if she got pregnant while celebrating his 18th birthday has been jailed.

Jack Connolly, now 20, shouted humiliating abuse at his victim as he punched her in the face repeatedly before raping her in a horrific 45-minute assault.

Leeds Crown Court heard how he preyed upon the woman after becoming separated from his friends in the early hours of the morning on October 5, 2019.

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Connolly had made the journey from an army base in Catterick to Leeds to celebrate his 18th birthday with colleagues, the court heard.

Jack Connolly, now 20, was jailed for 15 years

He spoke to the woman and was friendly towards her before turning violent when they reached a secluded car park near Leeds city centre, prosecutors said.

The court was told how Connolly strangled his victim and when she attempted to escape, he grabbed hold of her hair and dragged her along the ground.

During the assault, Connolly told the woman she should “walk like the dog you are”, and told her she “did not deserve to live” and that she was “scum”.

The court heard how Connolly told her he would kill the baby if she became pregnant or if she reported the assault to the police.

Prosecutor Gillian Batts said Connolly carried out the attack not long after he had undergone training about the "core values" of being a soldier in the British Army.

The training included showing respect for others and treating them with dignity "whether they are a mate, an officer or a member of the Taliban."

Connolly, of Ramsey, Cambridgeshire, had also undergone training about sexual offences and the issue of consent.

He was caught on camera calmly walking away from the scene and lighting up a cigarette "as if nothing had happened."

The court heard how he removed his t-shirt which was covered in his victim’s blood and threw it into the River Aire.

As he walked back through Leeds city centre, he was approached by two concerned women who asked if he was alright.

The “manipulative” soldier told them he had been the victim of an assault, and the women “comforted” him and walked him back to the Travelodge where he was staying.

Connolly then kept up the pretence and told his friends he had been attacked. Judge Mushtaq Khokhar described that behaviour as "pure manipulation."

Connolly was arrested after the victim reported the attack to the police and DNA evidence linked him to the offence.

He denied any wrongdoing and claimed at his trial that he had caused the injuries to the woman in self-defence.

The jury found him guilty of two counts of rape and one of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent.

The judge told Connolly he was imposing an extended custodial sentence as he considered him to pose a serious danger to women.

He was jailed for 15 years followed by a further three-year licence period.

Judge Khokhar said he had read 15 references provided to the court by Connolly's friends, family and army officers describing him as "highly articulate, polite, bright, thoughtful, pleasant, well-mannered, caring and having a strong moral compass."

The judge said: "I am sure in your other life you may be all of those things. But what you did that morning is totally contrary to what they see and, more importantly, contrary to the training that you had had in relation to the core values of a soldier.

"Your behaviour that morning was totally in contrast with those values."

The victim provided a statement to the court describing how she continues to suffer from anxiety and depression as a result of the attack.

She said she still suffers from the physical injuries he inflicted on her that morning.

Katherine Robinson, mitigating, said Connolly had been a promising soldier with a bright future in the military.

Ms Robinson said: "He has gone from being an exemplary young soldier to committing offences of this kind."

A probation officer's report stated that Connolly was unable to provide an explanation for the attack.

The officer said: "In my assessment, this presents the greatest risk until he understands the motivation for this offence and he can articulate it."

After the case, Detective Chief Inspector Marc Bowes said: “Connolly preyed on the victim, who was clearly vulnerable, and subjected her to a frightening ordeal during which she was raped and beaten and left badly traumatised.

“He was quickly identified through police enquiries that continued to build up a comprehensive package of evidence which has resulted in his conviction for these offences.

“Officers have also worked alongside a number of partner agencies to support the victim throughout this very difficult time for her, and we hope it will provide her with some degree of comfort to know that he has now been held responsible for his appalling actions and sent to prison.”