Lancashire

Sexual predator who broke into houses jailed for sex assaults

Zsolt Suhaj Image copyright Lancashire Police
Image caption Zsolt Suhaj mostly targeted bungalows, entering through insecure windows and doors

A sexual predator described as "every woman's worst nightmare" by a judge has been jailed for life.

Zsolt Suhaj, of Nelson, Lancashire was convicted of a string of offences involving breaking into women's homes, including the rape of a 66-year-old.

Sentencing the 26-year-old at Burnley Crown Court, Judge Sara Dodd said Suhaj had to serve a minimum of 11 years.

She spoke of Suhaj's "sordid and depraved actions" and the "chilling and terrifying experience" for the women.

His trial heard how he targeted homes in the Colne and Nelson areas of Lancashire, entering through insecure windows and doors during the early hours.

Between May and October last year, he broke into the homes of at least seven different women, in most cases making his way to their bedroom where he sexually assaulted them, jurors heard.

'Horrific ordeal'

Other victims woke up to find Suhaj staring at them as they slept, the court was told.

In his final attack, Suhaj climbed through a window at 04:15 and accosted the victim as she returned to her bedroom after getting up for a drink.

He grabbed her around the mouth and raped her.

During the assault, he stroked her face and told her not to tell the police, the court heard.

A small knife belonging to Suhaj was found next to the victim's bed.

Judge Dodd said he was "clearly dangerous" and his "predatory sexual behaviour" had escalated in a sinister manner.

Suhaj's claim the woman he raped had consented was "a spurious and unpleasant attack on an entirely blameless woman" and was further evidence of his intentions to "humiliate" her, the judge said.

The victim said she still could not believe what had happened to her and could no longer live in a bungalow, while every noise "puts me on edge".

In a personal statement read in court, she said: "I am scared of going into the other room. Scared that somebody will be in there. I don't know if this feeling will ever go away."

Suhaj's sexual assault victim said he had put her through the "horrific ordeal" of being forced to relive the attack in court.

"Not only did he violate my home but he violated my body," she said.

"I will never be the same person. The defendant tore out the heart of my home and me too."

Screaming from cell

Proceedings at the sentencing hearing were delayed as he screamed threats to kill from his cell.

He was later carried out of the dock in handcuffs by four officers.

Suhaj, who has lived in Nelson since January 2016, previously lived in Canada, where he was convicted of similar offences five years ago.

The Hungarian national was convicted of rape, sexual assault, trespassing with intent to commit a sexual offence at five homes and attempting to trespass with intent at another home.

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