Telford sex attackers are jailed for 13 years

Two Lithuanian men responsible for one of the worst sex attacks seen by Shropshire's top judge have each been jailed for 13 years and told they could be deported when they are released.

Andrius Grikpedis and Tomas Paplauskas
Andrius Grikpedis and Tomas Paplauskas

Tomas Paplauskas and Andrius Grikpedis were seen celebrating "as footballers would" after raping the 19-year-old, who suffered two epileptic fits during her ordeal.

She was attacked as she walked alone in the centre of Telford after her first ever visit to a nightclub.

The men had each denied two counts of rape despite overwhelming DNA evidence.

During the trial, which took nearly three weeks, forensic scientists told the jury that DNA samples found on the victim were "a billion times more likely" to have come from Paplauskas than anyone else".

The victim claimed the men had followed her, pushed her into bushes near Telford International Centre and forced themselves upon her.

But Paplauskas, speaking through an interpreter, told the court he had seen her with another man and had been invited to join in the consensual sex.

He claimed he and the girl "made love".

Police found that 30-year-old Paplauskas was in possession of the victim's mobile phone and two items of her jewellery. The prosecution alleged he took these as trophies.

And a witness said he saw Paplauskas, 30, of no fixed address, and Andrius Grikpedis, 35, of Turreff Avenue, Donnington, Telford, leaving the scene clapping each other on the back.

The men had each denied two counts of rape.

However, after almost four hours of deliberations, the jury at Shrewsbury Crown Court yesterday found each man guilty of one charge. Paplouskas was convicted of one count of rape and cleared of the other, while Grikpedis was cleared of rape but convicted by a majority verdict of the other offence.

The pair, who each had a string of previous convictions in Lithuania, were told they will have to serve half of their sentence before being considered for release on licence.

Judge Robin Onions said he hoped they would both be deported as soon as they are released.

Judge Robin Onions

Their 19-year-old victim was attacked in the early hours of July 27 after a night out at the Thomas Botfield pub and Vox nightclub in Telford town centre.

Judge Onions said: "I have been doing this job for 23 years and this is as bad a rape case as I've ever seen."

He told the men: "You had drunk quite ridiculous quantities of alcohol during the evening, drinking as much as you could. You followed her down the road to where it was quiet where no one was about.

"You knock her to the floor, you pick her up and take her into bushes so that no one can see and then you rape her without mercy as if she wasn't a person whose feelings you should take into account.

"You then left her having used her, having abused her, you discarded her as a person of no worth.

"One of the striking images I will not forget is the evidence that the two of you were happy with yourselves, clapping each other on the back afterwards, as if you'd done something of which you could be proud.

"There are no mitigating factors as far as I can see."

Following sentencing Judge Onions praised the police for their work on the inquiry which led to the men's arrest and conviction.

In a statement read out in court before sentencing, the victim said: "They're monsters, what they did to me. How can I ever trust men again?"

Detective Sergeant Mark Jones, who led the investigation, said following the hearing: "We are delighted at the conviction of these men and the sentences handed down by the court reflect the seriousness of the offences they committed. It means that two dangerous individuals are no longer on the streets of Telford and will be behind bars for a long time to come.

"We would like to pay tribute to the bravery and patience of the victim who went through an extremely traumatic ordeal. She had the courage to report the matter and follow the investigation through to its conclusion. Hopefully the result will bring her some measure of comfort and reassurance, and enable her to move on positively with her life.

"We would also like to pay tribute to the victim's family for their patience and dignity throughout the trial process.

"The outcome is the result of an exceptional team effort."

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