'Ann Summers rapist' obsessed with BBC newsreaders given four life sentences

Last updated at 15:52 15 March 2007

A serial "sex predator" obsessed with BBC newsreaders Fiona Bruce and Emily Maitlis swore at a judge today after he was given four life sentences for the gunpoint rape of an Ann Summers store assistant.

David Decoteau, who police believe may have attacked other women, first pretended to be a customer at the sex shop before grabbing his victim, pulling out a pistol and threatening to "blow her brains out" if she did not do as she was told.

The terrified woman was then dragged into a secluded office, bound and gagged, partially stripped and "mercilessly" assaulted.

Once he had finished, he brazenly sauntered past customers with £1,500 stolen from the safe and disappeared.

Although he was subsequently jailed for raping a 15-year-old girl less than a year later, it took nearly a decade, significant advances in DNA profiling and a "cold case" review before Decoteau was identified as the gun-toting sex attacker, London's Southwark Crown Court heard.

Police also discovered he not only had an "unhealthy fixation" for Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis - he called her his "special lady" and wrote to her from prison - but was "fascinated" with Fiona Bruce and their ITV colleague Nina Hossain as well.

The 45-year-old, of Albany Road, Camberwell, south east London, was convicted of raping the store assistant in 1996, indecently assaulting and falsely imprisoning her, possessing a handgun to carry out the attack and robbery.

As Decoteau's victim watched from the public gallery, Judge Stephen Robbins told him: "You were convicted by a jury in this court of committing an appalling rape of this young woman.

"The consequences for this lady are spelled out in her victim impact statement.

"You tied and taped her up and then you raped her as mercilessly as you did a 15-year-old girl a few months later.

"You were caught, tried and convicted of that second offence and sentenced to 12 years."

The judge told the initially impassive defendant his "continuing behaviour" since his release two years ago "leaves this court in no doubt you clearly represent a danger to society, namely a sexual danger to females".

Among other things he had demonstrated a "fixation" towards a number of women "including TV newscasters".

The judge said he not only "lacked insight" into his crimes but, as psychological and psychiatric reports made clear, he posed a "high risk of sexual re-offending".

"You have a deviant sexual interest in women and show a persistent preoccupation with sexual matters."

It was equally apparent to those who examined him that while he did not suffer from a treatable mental illness, he did have a marked anti-social personality disorder and was someone who appeared "incapable of profiting from punishment".

"Your history therefore leaves this court to conclude the only appropriate and safe sentence in this case is one of life imprisonment," he said.

After explaining there would be a total of four concurrent life sentences imposed - one each for the rape, the robbery, the handgun possession and the false imprisonment - as well as an eight-year-term for the indecent assault, the judge added he would have to serve a minimum of 10 years before being considered for parole.

It was at that point Decoteau lost his temper, looked up at the judge and shouted: "F*** off you C***."

Outside court, Detective Sergeant Jackie Murphy spoke of her "absolute delight" with the sentence.

The case officer, who received a "peculiar" letter full of sexual innuendo from Decoteau after his conviction, said: "This means women are a whole lot safer.

"He is clearly a sexual deviant with a history of sexual offending."

She went on: "I believe there is a very real possibility he has committed further rapes and/or sexual offences and would appeal for other women who recognise him and think they may have been a victim to come forward and contact the Met's old case review team on 020 8321 7365."

The officer, who admitted she could not imagine Decoteau serving just 10 years, added that she wished to thank the store assistant victim.

But for her "bravery and determination" in supporting the police investigation over so many years, her attacker might still be free.

During his trial - much of which he spent reading a bible - jurors heard that just nine months after the rape in one of Ann Summers' west London branches, Decoteau targeted a schoolgirl at a bus stop.

Having muffled her screams, he dragged her into a doorway and raped her.

Fortunately he was spotted by a passer-by, quickly arrested and jailed for 12 years at the Old Bailey.

Prosecutor Allison Hunter said that while in prison he developed an "unhealthy fixation, interest and fascination" for the three newsreaders.

Decoteau's "demonstrably predatory and highly sexualised attitude towards women" was so worrying that after his release he was banned from contacting Maitlis or going anywhere near BBC News Centre.

Officers also decided to keep a close eye on him and often spotted him chatting to lone women in the street, although he always insisted he was simply inviting them to a bible study group.

Later he had to be formally warned to keep away from a woman police officer he admitted "fancying" after she began supervising his prison licence conditions.

Then came the long-hoped-for DNA breakthrough and his arrest for the Ann Summers rape.

When his home was searched, police found a picture of Maitlis by his bed, six rolls of PVC tape and a series of "scribblings" about rape, violence and sexual positions.

He had also jotted down notes about the sex shop chain, its profits and its chief executive Jacqueline Gold.

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