A MULTIPLE rapist described as a danger to women has been given a life sentence.

Peter Smith committed what was described as a “campaign of rape” against a vulnerable victim and also carried out sexually degrading acts on her.

Smith, previously of Carlin How, east Cleveland, was convicted by a jury at Teesside Crown Court after denying seven counts of rape, three sexual assaults and an offence of assault by penetration – and appeared for sentence today.

The Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Simon Bourne-Arton gave him a life sentence and ordered he serve at least nine years before being considered for release by the Parole Board.

Smith, 45, whose address was given in court as HMP Northumberland, had two previous rape convictions on his record, including one dating back to 1996 in which he raped a young girl in a back alley in Scarborough.

In March 2014 he was given a six-year jail sentence with a five-year extended licence period for a separate rape involving a woman he met on a dating website and also failing to comply with sex offender notification requirements. At that time he was also assessed as being dangerous.

His latest offences pre-dated the 2014 matters.

Nigel Soppitt, mitigating, said Smith, who appeared on a prison video link, suffered from psychotic episodes and also depression. He said he was seeking help for his medical conditions.

Judge Bourne-Arton said that Smith had subjected his victim to a series of dreadful sex assaults over a number of years.

He said: “It was an ordeal of rape and other sexual degradation against a highly vulnerable individual.

“You are in my judgement thoroughly dangerous.”

The judge, who at one stage interrupted the link shouting “be quiet” when other background noise could be heard during his sentencing remarks, said Smith posed a significant risk and danger to the public and for that reason only a life sentence could be considered.

In a statement after the case, Detective Sergeant Suzanne Mills, of Cleveland Police’s Vulnerable Adults Unit, said: “Smith’s victim has suffered prolonged abuse and has been exceptionally brave in coming forward and working with officers to ensure that her abuser was brought to justice.

“Hopefully her bravery will help other victims of rape to come forward and seek justice.”