Beeston rapist sentenced to 20 years in prison

Zdenko Turtak was extradited from his native Slovakia to stand trial

beeston court crime criminal interpol leeds rape rapist slovakia west yorkshire police wyp zdenko turtak

Beeston rapist Zdenko Turtak has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The Slovakian national attacked an 18-year-old girl at a Beeston bus stop in March.

Turtak made his first appearance at Leeds Magistrates Court on 10th July, and was charged with rape, attempted murder and grievous bodily harm.

The CPS later dropped the charge of attempted murder after Turtak pleaded guilty to rape and GBH.

Turtak’s victim was waiting for a bus on Friday 6th March when Turtak grabbed her and pulled her behind a bush in a garden behind the bus stop.

He hit her repeatedly with a rock until she was semi-conscious and raped her before fleeing the scene, leaving her for dead.

The victim was taken to hospital after she staggered to her feet and two neighbours found her shouting “rape, rape”.

She remained in hospital for more than a week, and doctors believed her hijab headscarf helped cushion the blows of the attack and saved her from more serious head injuries.

The whole attack was recorded on a private CCTV camera overlooking the garden. Edited footage was later released to the public to help identify the attacker.

Police used the help of a geologist to identify the rock used to attack the victim, and began to piece together his movements on the night of the attack.

It became clear that he had also stalked two women earlier that evening as potential victims.

It was quickly established by police that the offender had probably gone abroad, and they put out a worldwide request to Interpol to help identify him.

He was positively identified by Slovakian police, who had a DNA sample that had been taken when he had been arrested for a burglary some years ago.

Turtak had no criminal record for sexual offences in Slovakia, but had served two sentences in youth custody for burglary.

Footage released when police were searching for Turtak

The victim, who is from a strict Muslim family and has left school, is still suffering from the aftermath of her ordeal.

DSI Wallen said: “This has had a catastrophic effect on her. She perceives the shame of being raped, no matter how many people tell her she was the victim. She feels ashamed and her family do too.

“She fractured her skull in the attack and still suffers from dizziness, nausea and flashbacks.

“She is scared to go out. She went out of her home to get her confidence back but rang 999 to call the police because she believed she was being followed.”

Police have told how his victim helped identify her attacker by the distinctive smell of the drug he was using.

The 18-year-old girl told police after she was attacked that “a certain smell had enveloped her that she could not get out of her nose and mouth”.

She was given samples of cannabis to smell to see if it proved a match.

It wasn’t until West Yorkshire Police had identified Turtak by his DNA after he fled to his native country that they found the correct drug – toluene, a potent chemical used in glue and paint thinners, popular among Slovakian youths.

Turtak had been sniffing the substance before the attack, and the victim smelt it as he put his hand over her mouth.

Detective Superintendent Nick Wallen, leading investigating officer, described the moment the victim positively described the smell as toluene as “very emotional.”

He said: “We have all had moments where a smell can take you back somewhere in time.

“That the victim could identify this smell provided us with another piece in the puzzle.”

DSI Wallen said of Turtak: “I have been in the police for 27 years and I can’t remember a more nasty predator.

“When we told the victim he had been arrested, she was pleased but she wasn’t doing cartwheels. She had been afraid she would be targeted again.

“It is clear she was the last person Turtak would have seen on her way home, and it was incredibly bad luck for her.”

Police arrested Turtak in Velka Ida, a Roma camp in Slovakia, after an international manhunt which involved over 100 officers and cost over £250,000.

DSI Wallen said: “The fact that the whole attack was caught on CCTV gave us a really disturbing insight into the type of offender we were dealing with.

“It was quite clear early on this was a sexual predator who was out looking for a victim to attack and was prepared to use a high level of physical and sexual violence.

“The longer he remained out there, the deeper our concerns grew that he could strike again.

“The investigation was made the Force’s top priority at the time and a large amount of resources were made available.”

CCTV footage of the attack in March

Although Turtak had been living in the UK for some years, he did not hold a bank account and was not on the electoral role – meaning the authorities had no leads on him.

At the time of the attack, he had been staying with his brother in Beeston, just a few minutes walk from the scene.

His brother had given a DNA swab as part of the police’s enquiries, but had made no reference to Turtak.

It was later found that Turtak had left the country on March 27th.

It is believed he fled after seeing the media coverage of the attack, and after finding out that his brother had provided a DNA sample to the police.

Slovakian authorities had to work sensitively to locate Turtak without alerting him to his impending arrest. They finally arrested him on June 4.

Police obtained a European Arrest Warrant for Turtak and he was extradited back to the UK in July.

He was driven back to Leeds by the same officer who had been first on the scene on the night of the attack in March.

He said he wanted “the honour” of being involved in Turtak’s detention, having witnessed first-hand what he did to his victim.

Police have released video footage of him being taken to custody and locked in his cell.

DSI Wallen said the CPS’s decision had mostly been based on how traumatic it would have been for the victim to give evidence in court.

DSI Wallen paid tribute to the victim. He said: “Thankfully, she survived her injuries but has been left very badly traumatised by what he did to her.

“I would like to recognise the courage that this young lady has shown throughout the investigation and hope the support we are continuing to give her is helping her recovery.

“I hope that knowing that the man who did this has now been brought to justice will provide some degree of comfort and reassurance to her and her family.”

He also called for Sex Offender Registers to be introduced across Europe.

He said: “If you have been born in this country and commit a crime, we can keep tabs on you.

“People are coming into this country like Zdenko Turtak and we don’t know anything about it.”