Rapist who targeted elderly women as they slept in their beds is jailed for life

Zsolt Suhaj Credit: Lancashire Police

A "deviant" night prowler branded by a judge as "every woman's worst nightmare" has been jailed for life.

Sexual predator Zsolt Suhaj, 26, targeted elderly and vulnerable women as they slept in their beds over five months which culminated with the rape of a 66-year-old woman in October last year.

Most of his seven victims in the Nelson and Colne areas of Lancashire woke to find the Hungarian national standing over them and staring into their eyes.

Suhaj had been deported from Canada in 2012 after he committed a number of similar offences in Toronto during a one-week period, including the sexual assault of a woman as she sat with friends in a cafe and a house trespass in which the victim awoke to find Suhaj committing a sex act at her bedside.

It is believed he flew from his home country to the UK in January 2016 to join family members in East Lancashire.

Last May he gained access to the Nelson home of a 70-year-old woman who woke to find Suhaj with his hand between her legs.

The grandmother, whose husband was sleeping in another room, said she screamed and tried to push his face away and eventually he left the house.

Burnley Crown Court heard there were four more reports of women, aged between 22 and 84, waking to find Suhaj in their homes in July and August last year, before he fled, while another woman raised the alarm when the defendant tried to gain entry through her patio doors.

His rape victim thought she was going to be murdered after Suhaj climbed through her bedroom window, placed his hands over her mouth, pushed her on to her bed and said: "I love sex, I want sex. I am not going to hurt you but I want sex."

Following the rape, detectives released CCTV images of the suspect and staff at a local takeaway recognised Suhaj and he was subsequently arrested.

When interviewed, Suhaj admitted to being at the scene of the crimes, all but one were bungalows, but said he was there to steal money and gold for drugs and food.

He then claimed at his trial that his rape victim had consented to sex after lying he had met up with her earlier in the day.

Last month, Suhaj was found guilty of rape, sexual assault, trespassing with intent to commit a sexual offence at five homes and attempting to trespass with intent at another home.

On Thursday, Suhaj, of Barkerhouse Road, Nelson, was sentenced in his absence after he was carried out of the dock in handcuffs by four officers after banging his head on the facing screen.

He had been warned by Judge Sara Dodd that he would be removed from the courtroom if he disrupted proceedings after he was earlier heard in the court from the cells screaming: "I am going to kill you, I am going to kill you."

When asked if he understood the warning, the defendant replied in Hungarian: "I am not interested in what you are talking about."

In sentencing, Judge Dodd said: "You are every woman's worst nightmare, as I said when you were convicted.

"In my judgment, given your previous convictions in Canada and the nature and number of these offences you are clearly dangerous.

"Canadian authorities described you as predatory and brazen. That is an assessment that I agree with.

"You targeted properties where you thought women were on their own, when they were most vulnerable when asleep in bed.

"You have no insight into your own deviant sexual behaviour.

"Until this changes you will continue to pose a significant risk of harm to women by the commissioning of further sexual offending."

Suhaj was sentenced to life for rape and ordered to serve a minimum of 11 years in jail before he can be considered for release by the Parole Board.

He received concurrent terms for the other offences.