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North African illegal immigrant jailed in UK for sex attacks

Mehdi Midani
Mehdi Midani

A north African illegal immigrant who carried out a terrifying ten-day campaign of sex attacks has been jailed for eight years.

Algerian Mehdi Midani, 28, preyed on eight lone women aged between 20 and 30, including four molested in the space of four hours in October.

He followed them from busy areas near tube stations to quiet residential areas and then groped them on their own doorsteps.

One was attacked in her hallway, Inner London Crown Court heard.

His sordid campaign forced police to increase patrols in the Brixton and Clapham areas of London, as fears mounted over where he might strike next.

Midani, of no fixed abode, was jailed on Thursday, having previously been convicted of six counts of sexual assault and one common assault. He also admitted a seventh charge of sexual assault.

Judge Nicholas Madge also ordered that he serve an extended period of two years on licence after being released, saying that he posed a danger to the public.

The court heard that the UK Border Agency had no record of Midani entering Britain, and he would be deported after serving his sentence.

Midani refused to talk to police and did not give evidence at his trial.

He was picked out of an identity parade and also by DNA evidence, the court heard.

He claimed in a pre-sentence report he had been high on a cocktail of whisky, vodka and cocaine when he carried out the offences.

He also said he had travelled to Brixton from north London to buy drugs.

He stood cross-armed with an emotionless expression on his face, listening via an Arabic interpreter, as Judge Madge told him he had brought "terror" to his victims.

He told the sex attacker: "I have no doubt, having viewed extensive CCTV footage of you and your victims, that you hung around in the Brixton and Clapham North area with the sole purpose of picking out young women, stalking them until they reached their homes and then sexually assaulting them.

"At times, you waited while the young woman went into a shop and then continued your pursuit when she emerged. You followed women, for up to 20 minutes, from crowded areas with many people to quiet and secluded residential streets."

He added: "The experience of this court is that sexual attacks on women by strangers in the street are rare. In that sense, London is a relatively safe city.

"However, courts will do all they can to keep it that way and to protect women by imposing long sentences upon anyone who attacks women, especially at night."

He added that the report had shown "a sense of entitlement over women and a desire to seek sexual gratification", adding: "You are more concerned about your own future than the women you attacked."

Six of the women submitted victim statements to the court saying how the crime had affected them.

Many told how they were now scared to go out alone after dark and had changed their social lives and work routines as a result of Midani's crimes.

Prosecutor Sally-Ann Hales QC said all the women had been vulnerable.

She said: "They were followed from areas that were busy into quiet residential areas. All apart from one were assaulted late at night and all after darkness.

"CCTV shows that each of these women was targeted by the defendant as they emerged from Tube stations in the area. And they were followed for some considerable distance as they made their way home, but not attacked until they got to their doorstep."

Midani may have been on his way to commit another attack when he was arrested, police said.

Senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Keith Braithwaite said the Algerian was arrested in Brixton on November 2 after a member of the public recognised him from CCTV released to the media, called 999 and followed him until officers arrived.

Asked outside court if police believed Midani could have been on his way to commit another attack, Mr Braithwaite said: "He could well have been."

Police also linked Midani with two more sexual assaults and two more incidents of indecent exposure, meaning four additional potential victims, but did not have enough evidence to prosecute him, the detective said.

He added: "Clearly this man is a danger to the public and today's sentence reflects how seriously the Metropolitan Police and the judiciary take such matters.

"During a period of 10 days Midani caused fear within the local community by his horrific and callous crimes."

Midani's attacks spanned a period between October 22 and 31, with four taking place in Brixton between 7.30pm and 11.30pm on October 28, the court heard.

Most were grabbed roughly from behind as they put the keys in the door to go into their homes.

One victim recalled him saying "hey baby" as he molested her. Another described him as having "a bit of a spaced look" and as being "not quite on the ball".

He received sentences of between four and 42 months for the eight counts, which Judge Madge allowed to run consecutively to reach his final sentence.

The judge added: "Considering all the evidence, the predatory nature of these offences, the number of women attacked, your use of alcohol and cocaine, your own statement that you were out of control, the psychological harm caused to these women, your total lack of remorse in respect of those offences for which there was a trial, and, despite your absence of previous convictions, I have no hesitation in concluding that you are dangerous.

"I am satisfied that you present a significant risk of causing serious harm by committing further similar offences."