A vile sex fiend from Luton was today jailed eight years for carrying out a terrifying attack on a woman in Caddington after offering her a lift home.
Valentine Gonzo, 37, from Gilderdale, Luton, was found guilty of sexual assault by penetration in June after a six-day trial at Luton Crown Court, and was sentenced today (Friday) to eight years in jail.
He was told he must serve a minimum of two thirds of this sentence before parole is considered and he will be on licence for a further four years.
In an impact statement read out to the court, the victim said: “This incident was absolutely terrifying and I feel disgusted that this man can do this to another human being.
"I feel like life stopped for me at that point, I can't trust people how I used to.
"I don’t have any plans for the future, I live day-to-day now.
On the evening of Friday, May 25 last year, Gonzo met his victim and her friends in Luton town centre and offered them a lift home to Dunstable.
After dropping the others off and making sure the victim was alone with him in the vehicle, he suddenly pulled over on a rural road, close to Caddington. He got out of the vehicle, and opened the passenger door, and forced himself on her and sexually assaulted her.
Despite telling him to stop, and repeatedly pushing him away, he pulled at her clothing, and persistently attacked her.
The victim tried to sound the vehicle horn to summon help, but was unable to escape and Gonzo continued to assault her as he drove towards Dunstable.
As they entered the town, the victim was able to escape from the van and ran to a nearby shop for help, where a staff member called the police.
Witnesses saw Gonzo’s van leaving the area, and he was later traced and arrested.
The victim went on to say: “The only glimmer of light in this whole terrifying ordeal is the fact there are still people out there willing to help someone in need. It has touched my heart and I'll be forever grateful for everything they did for me that night.”
At trial, Gonzo was found not guilty of rape, but the jury ruled that he was guilty of sexual assault by penetration.
His Honour Judge Richard Foster, presiding, said that Gonzo displayed “predatory, not opportunistic, behaviour” and added: “I have no doubt you went to the club specifically to find a vulnerable young woman.”
The judge described Gonzo as “dangerous” and said he posed “significant harm to the public”.
DC Joanna Tyrrell said: “I am delighted that Gonzo has been jailed for eight years.
“The sentence handed to him today reflects the severity of his offending and he will no longer be a risk to the women of Bedfordshire.
“Now that Gonzo is locked up, we hope that with appropriate support the victim can start to rebuild her life.”
DI Craig Laws added: “This dangerous man lured a victim into his vehicle on the promise of taking her home. His predatory actions took advantage of this woman’s trust in the worst way imaginable.
“Our dedicated team of detectives and specially trained officers, are passionate about providing victims with the right support, bringing perpetrators to justice, whilst ensuring the public is kept safe from dangerous sexual predators like Gonzo.
Victims of rape and sexual assault can receive support and guidance from Bedfordshire Police and partner agencies including the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), as well as support through the criminal investigation process.
Reports can be made to police on 101. You can also contact Bedfordshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) the Emerald Centre, by visiting www.emeraldcentre.org, emailing email@example.com or calling 01234 897052.
Always call 999 in an emergency.