Lowestoft man who fled to India found guilty of raping woman in car
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A 35-year-old man has been found guilty of raping a woman after offering her a lift home, before fleeing the country.
Ajay Rana, formerly of May Road, Lowestoft, was found guilty at Ipswich Crown Court on Monday, June 3, following a two-week trial.
Jurors heard how the woman, aged in her 30s, had been at a nightclub in Lowestoft with a friend, before meeting an old friend, going to a house party with his group and later going to his house.
The woman insisted on leaving his home as she had left her phone at the house party and had no way to contact family and friends to let them know she was safe.
She accepted the offer of a lift at around 5am on Saturday, December 9 2017 after Rana said he had given lifts to a couple earlier in the night.
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After fleeing the car, the woman ran to a nearby house, with the homeowner saying she was "hysterical, freezing cold, crying and shaking."
Officers from Suffolk Police launched a major investigation, including forensic work, CCTV analysis and house-to-house enquiries.
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The silver Ford Fiesta was traced and found to be registered to one of Rana's housemates, with Rana a named driver on the insurance.
DNA analysis from earphones left at the May Road home matched with swabs taken from the victim, with the chances of the DNA coming from someone other than Rana being one in a billion, jurors were told.
In the days following the incident, however, Rana left his maritime course at East Coast College during a "critical" week of exams to go to London, where he bought a one-way ticket to India on December 13.
Officers from Suffolk Police began proceedings to extradite Rana from India and issued a European Arrest Warrant, which would allow him to be detained if her attempted to enter another EU state.
He was detained by Spanish police in Bilbao on October 22 2018 and, after his extradition was approved by Spanish courts, he was returned to the UK on November 12 and charged with rape the following day.
Rana has been remanded in custody since and is due to be sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court on Tuesday, June 4.