RAMSGATE, KENT, ENGLAND — A British teenager helped catch the man who attempted to brutally rape her by capturing footage of him on her cell phone during the attack.
Student Lillian Constantine, 18, can be heard screaming and pleading with her attacker on the two-minute, 47-second clip, recorded on her phone as she walked home. It is thought to be the first time ever that a victim’s own footage of an entire attack has helped put a rapist behind bars.
Ashraf Miah, 34, attacked her beneath a street light that had been turned off by a council in a bid to save money, and Constantine had her phone turned on in order to light her way home. She said she was distraught when she learned that 124 lights in the borough had been turned off from midnight to 5.30 A.M. in order to save Kent County Council money and to cut carbon emissions.
The attack occurred following a night out during which Constantine was recording footage in bars as part of her media-studies coursework for school. She had one glass of wine at about midnight, and at 2 A.M. she and the friend she was working with headed home.
Constantine had no idea that Miah had spotted her first in the Enoteca bar before he attacked her on a dark seafront road. She said:
“I was screaming the whole time, ‘I’m filming you, I’m filming you. I’m going to call the f***ing police, I’m filming you right now. You are not going to get away with this.'”
Eventually the noise woke residents and Miah ran off, and Constantine was able to get home and tell her mother what happened. They called the police, but Lillian’s ordeal was far from over. She had to wait 24 hours for an appointment at the sexual assault referral centre at Maidstone Hospital, which was almost 50 miles away.
Unfortunately, no match was found to Lillian’s attacker in the DNA database, but the smart phone footage proved to be a crucial clue. Police managed to isolate a darkened still of a man’s features from the film and went door to door until they were able to identify Miah and trace him to an address in London.
Miah, a Bangladeshi take-out-food worker who was in the country illegally, was jailed last month for 13 and a half years, of which he must serve a minimum of nine and a half years.
Sentencing Miah at Canterbury Crown Court, Judge James O’Mahony said:
“I have seldom heard a more harrowing incident of the brave victim screaming in terror and pleading for it to stop and the awful suffering she endured. If anyone needed a wake-up call as to just how horrific the offense of attempted rape is, then this was it.”
Main photo: Ashraf Miah [Kent Police]