Raised in a Slovakian slum: Profile of Beeston rapist Zdenko Turtak

Zdenko Turtak is brought into custody
Zdenko Turtak is brought into custody
Have your say

Given that he became one of the country’s most wanted criminals, Zdenko Turtak remains something of a troubling unknown quantity.

The way in which European arrest warrants are handled means police in West Yorkshire have never formally interviewed the 22-year-old in the way that suspects would usually be questioned.

Zdenko Turtak is brought into custody

Zdenko Turtak is brought into custody

He showed little inclination to engage with the officers from West Yorkshire who travelled to his native Slovakia to carry out his extradition.

They could only report that he had an “empty gaze”.

“We don’t know anything about him. He did what he did and was out of the country,” says Detective Superintendent Nick Wallen.

It is thought Turtak travelled across Europe on a bus from Slovakian capital Bratislava to Bradford around four years ago and had been in Britain on-and-off since.

He never had a bank account or credit card or registered for benefits or housing.

Working cash-in-hand at car washes and staying with family members in Beeston and Hyde Park, he largely remained in the shadows during the whole time he was here.

Beeston bus stop rapist ‘did not care’ whether victim lived or died

How Beeston rape inquiry became West Yorkshire’s biggest since Shannon Matthews

The solitary documentary evidence of Turtak’s presence in this country is a record of a transaction he carried out at Cash Converters in Armley several years ago.

It was the cause of frustration during the early part of the investigation into the rape that he had never come to the attention of police in this country.

Crucially, however, he did have a criminal record in Slovakia.

Turtak comes from the notorious Lunik IX district of Velka Ida in the city of Kosice – a squalid suburb which has effectively become a ghetto for thousands from the Roma Gypsy community, ostracised from mainstream society.

As a teenager he became addicted to toluene – a potent chemical used in paint thinners which has a distinctive smell and is the drug of choice among poverty-stricken youngsters.

It is thought he had been sniffing the substance on the night of his attack.

Det Supt Wallen said: “The victim described lying in hospital even the day after and not being able to get a very distinctive smell out of her nose.

“The smell enveloped her when she was attacked and stayed with her.”

Like many of his peers, Turtak was involved in petty criminality growing up. His criminal record showed he had been arrested four times for burglary and served two sentences in youth custody.

He had no record for sexual offences but it was DNA left by him at the scene of a burglary at a steel works next to Lunik IX which ultimately led police to his door.

He put up little resistance when officers arrested him in June.

Det Supt Wallen said: “With the borders as they are, where there’s freedom of movement it’s really difficult for us to get a good understanding of all the people living in our communities and this was really brought home in this case.”

He added: “What we can say is that people like Turtak are thankfully really rare.”