A television star was raped in her hotel room by an Indian porter who was awaiting deportation, a court heard yesterday. Soby John, 25, was jailed for ten years after admitting breaking into the victim’s room at a top London hotel and forcing himself on her as she slept, in what the judge described as a ‘wicked’ attack. The star had been drinking heavily in a West End club with friends that evening and was ‘unable to defend herself’.
John, who was living in Wembley, had entered the UK on a student visa but it had expired and he was due to be deported back to India. He had been granted shift work at the hotel through an agency on the night of the attack last year.
The court heard he used his position as a porter to get a copy of the electronic key to the victim’s room after seeing her stumbling in the corridor and being helped to bed by a female friend in the early hours of October 24. Lesley Jones, prosecuting, said John entered the victim’s room using the key and raped her as she lay in bed.
She said: ‘(The victim) had woken during the night to find an Asian man on top of her having sex with her.’ The victim ‘felt immobilised and unable to defend herself’, she said, adding: ‘She said she felt his hand on her neck as she pushed him away but then she drifted into unconsciousness.’ After raping her, John took a photograph on her iPhone and intimate photographs of her on his own phone. In an attempt to make the rape appear consensual, he also sent a message from her phone to his, saying: ‘Hey John you enjoy me thanks’.
Swabs taken from the victim matched John’s DNA, as did DNA taken from a pair of blue latex gloves left in the room which the court heard may have been used as a ‘crude’ condom. John admitted he had sex with the woman when police used information from hotel security to track him down at home, but denied rape in initial interviews.
He changed his plea to guilty in February. Yesterday at Southwark Crown Court, defence counsel Peter Higginson said his client was ‘a naive young man, floundering in a culture which he hadn’t quite come to terms with’. He said John had no previous convictions in the UK or India, that he had always worked and had ‘not been a burden’ on the state. ‘It was a single, foolish act,’ he added.
Jailed: Soby John, 25, was ordered to serve 10 years behind bars today by a judge sitting at Southwark Crown Court Describing the offence as a ‘wicked rape’, Recorder of Westminster Judge Alistair McCreath said the victim had been left with ‘massive anxiety’ and ‘huge trust issues’, and was afraid to stay in hotels, go out alone or be left on her own. Breaking into the ‘private space’ of her hotel room ‘was effectively a burglary’, the judge said, and taking the photos had added to her ‘humiliation’.
Sentencing him to ten years, he told the defendant: ‘I recognise you are relatively young and you were brought up in a different culture from the culture of the place where this terrible offence took place. ‘But whatever cultural values you were brought up with, I do not for a moment accept they condone the act of non-consensual intercourse with a woman who was so drunk as to be insensible.’ The court heard John will be deported to India once he has served his sentence.