A RAPIST has been jailed for 10 years after dragging a woman into bushes to gag and handcuff her before attacking her at knifepoint.

Thomas Andrew Coutts grabbed his 20-year-old victim as she walked home listening to music on her headphones and put his hand over her mouth.

She first thought she was going to be mugged before he cut her clothes off during a “terrifying” ordeal in which she begged him not to kill her.

Coutts, a cleaner who had been living in Poole with his girlfriend and young son before the attack, was sent to prison after admitting rape and sexual assault.

The court was told he had carried out the attack after his girlfriend told him she wanted to end their relationship.

Carolyn Branford-Wood, prosecuting, told Bournemouth Crown Court that the woman went out to the garage on Longfleet Road in Poole to buy food at around 1am on August 20 last year, after work.

Miss Branford-Wood read a statement made by the victim, saying she “immediately started screaming and I was pulled to the ground and the man kept telling me to be quiet”

Coutts, now 21, told her he was protecting her from two men who were following her but dragged her behind some bushes before shoving a rag into her mouth and handcuffing her, the court heard.

Miss Branford-Wood said he pulled out a kitchen knife and held it to her face before using it to cut off her clothes and underwear.

“She made a determined decision not to look at him in the face so that by not being able to recognise him she hoped that would safeguard her in some way,” she said.

“She said 'I'm not going to make any noise just please don't kill me I'm not going to recognise you”

Coutts, who had moved back to Main Street, Peterborough, before being arrested, kissed her and held her little finger with his as he said he was making a“pinky promise” not to hurt her, she added.

Coutts fled and his victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, made it onto Longfleet Road to get help.

Judge John Harrow told Thomas Andrew Coutts he was handing him an extended sentence as he is “dangerous”.

“It would seem that after your girlfriend told you she wanted to end your relationship you decided to eke your revenge out on an unfortunate young woman,” the judge said.

“You went out at night armed with a knife and handcuffs and selected your victim, a clearly vulnerable young woman who was oblivious to any danger.”

Judge Harrow told Coutts he must serve two-thirds of his 10-year sentence and added five years onto the period he must spend on licence after being released The judge said the victim had lost her job and flat and is unable to go out alone or trust anyone, particularly men, after the attack.

He said: “This must have been a terrifying and almost indescribable experience for her.

“I've read what your girlfriend said about you and you had a rough and controlling sexual nature towards her,” the judge added.

Following the sentence, Carolyn Branford-Wood, Crown Advocate for CPS Wessex, said: “This young woman has clearly been the victim of a terrifying ordeal. She is to be commended not only for having the courage to report this crime but also in supporting a prosecution.

“We would like to thank all the other witnesses in this case in particular the two members of the public who contacted the police. Their evidence, together with the statement of the victim, has enabled the prosecution to build a strong case to put before the court. As a result, Coutts changed his pleas to guilty on the first day of his trial.

“We hope that this conviction and sentence will bring some closure to the victim at least insofar as the Criminal Justice process is concerned and will enable her to move on with her life.”