A STUDENT has told how her life has been devastated by a terrifying sex attack carried out by a stranger who won her trust.

The 18-year-old met the man at a house party and found him to be "nice" before a group of friends went into town to continue drinking.

When she said she was going to the loo – quite a way from the bar, along a corridor, up some stairs and along another corridor – he offered to walk her to make sure she was safe.

As the reached the toilets, attacker Philip Dale grabbed her hand, pulled her into a store room and began his violent and "bizarre" assault.

The 23-year-old grabbed her by the throat, pressed his thumb into her windpipe and shoved her to the floor, saying: "I have to do it, someone is watching me."

The terrified victim tried to kick the door open and scream for help, but Dale stuffed her hair and two of his fingers into her mouth to keep her quiet.

Teesside Crown Court heard that he repeatedly banged her head off the floor and kicked her in the ribs while saying: "I'm sorry, but if I don't rape you, they will harm me, harm you and harm your family."

After putting his hand up the teenager's skirt and trying to pull down her underwear, he suddenly stopped and told her the people who had been watching had gone.

Dale said: "I'm going to get arrested any way, so I might as well let you go."

Prosecutor Shaun Dodds told the court that two other drinkers at Spensleys Emporium in Middlesbrough were passing the store room as she fled.

Dale, who had travelled from his home in the Republic of Ireland for the party, admitted attempted rape and actual bodily harm, and was jailed for four-and-a-half years.

The victim was in court with her family to hear him described by Judge Sean Morris as "an ordinarily decent man, hard-working, who helps others, who has never been in trouble before".

Lesley Manley, mitigating, said: "He comes from a decent family, and they are devastated by it, everyone is deeply ashamed. Their thoughts are with the young lady."

In a statement, she told how she had to take time off from her university studies, and has been unable to talk about it with anyone. She left her halls of residence to move back home and split up with her boyfriend.

She said: "It is always in my head and it doesn't take much to remember how awful it was. I used to be outgoing, but this assault has changed me completely. I just want to get my life back to normal, but I don't think it will ever be 100 per cent normal."