19th November 2018
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Man jailed for four years for raping woman at Lerwick party

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A man convicted of raping a drunk woman at a housewarming party in Lerwick was jailed for four years today.

Michal Skindzier, 26, of Greenfield Place, Lerwick, targeted the woman after she was put to bed during the party on 11th October 2009. He climbed into bed alongside her, undressed her and raped her.

Judge Lord Bracadale told him: “While other men in the party looked after this woman, you took advantage and raped her.”

Skindzier’s victim, who was drunk, had woken up naked after a night out and found him lying beside her. The father of two was found guilty after trial at the High Court in Aberdeen earlier this year of raping his victim while she was under the influence of alcohol and incapable of giving or withholding consent.

Skindzier, who moved to Lerwick from Poland to find work, continued to deny the offence and claimed the woman had consensual sex with him.

Defence solicitor advocate John Keenan told the court that Skindzier’s wife was standing by him. Mr Keenan said: “She had remained supportive of him and has continued to visit him while in custody and has said she will support him in every way she can.”

The court heard that the last thing the woman remembered was being in a nightclub. She said in evidence: “I knew that something had happened that should not have happened. A sexual thing.”

She told the court her first memory was of being “upset and still quite drunk”, but, when asked by advocate depute Sheena Fraser, prosecuting, if she remembered why she was upset, she replied: “No.”

The court heard the woman told police she woke up naked in the bed and found Skindzier lying beside her.

Skindzier came to Lerwick with his family four years ago in search of work.

Mr Keenan said: “He was employed locally in Lerwick in a number of jobs. He worked in a bar where he met the complainer.

“He has been a hard-working young man. He has no previous history of offending either here or in Poland.”

Mr Keenan said the social worker who compiled a risk assessment report on him deemed him to be a low to medium risk of re-offending.

He said: “He continues to deny the offence, but must accept he has been convicted of it. Rape is always a serious offence, but this particular matter is towards the lower end of seriousness of such crimes.

“The complainer was intoxicated and there was no significant violence as part of the offence.”

Shetland’s chief of police David Bushell described the incident as “a horrific and cowardly attack” and welcomed the sentence, saying it was testament to the dedicated investigative work of the police officers and support staff involved in the case.

He said: “Despite the particularly distressing nature of this incident, the victim showed great courage in coming forward to police to report the attack. Her actions led to the swift arrest of the perpetrator.

“Today’s sentence cannot undo the damage that has been caused to this young woman’s life, but hopefully it can provide her with some peace of mind that justice has been served.”

Chief Inspector Bushell added: “Northern Constabulary would like to take this opportunity to remind our communities that assaults of this nature remain extremely rare. Anyone who feels they have been the victim of such a crime is encouraged to report it immediately to their local police or crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

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