A RAPIST who carried out a horrifying attack on a young woman walking alone on a path near a cemetery was branded a continuing risk to the public as a judge gave him an extended jail sentence.

Stephen Sanderson admitted raping his 16-year-old victim near a footpath between Bishop Auckland Town Cemetery, off South Church Road, and Brack’s Farm, Bishop Auckland.

Jailing him to 13 years and six months at Durham Crown Court, Judge Christopher Prince said: “I consider there is a significant risk of serious harm being occasioned by the defendant.

“I do not consider that a determinate sentence would provide adequate public protection in this instance.”

He added, extreme features of the offence were that Sanderson had caused the victim profound psychological harm, while it involved degradation and humiliation and took significant of degree of planning.

Shaun Dodds, prosecuting, said Sanderson approached the teenager from behind, before “brandishing a knife”, handcuffing her, taking her phone and frog-marching her up a steep incline to a wooded area, where he raped her.

Sanderson then took off and discarded the cuffs, before making off in an opposite direction following the incident, shortly after 8pm on Saturday, October 20.

In her victim impact statement, the girl, now 17, said: “Immediately after the attack I physically could not bring myself to leave the house and when I did it was only with my mum.

“And even then I was always thinking the person responsible could be anyone.”

She added, she could not bring herself to walk on leaves, because it reminded her of the attack in the woods and she found herself jumping at the sound of people jogging.

Her mother said: “She’s changed since the incident. She seems so deflated. She was always happy, but now if she laughs it’s not like it was before. She comes to me in floods of tears breaking down.”

She added, in January, her daughter had taken a knife from the kitchen and locked herself in the bathroom, where she cut her forearms up to 20 times.

“She didn’t need medical assistance, but was crying to me and saying she wanted to end it and could not longer cope,” the mother added.

Kitty Colley, mitigating, said after the rape Sanderson had escorted the victim out of the graveyard, asked her where she was going and gave her mobile phone back, before telling her to “keep going”.

Sanderson had learning disability, and suffered ADHD, as well as from mental problems resulting from childhood trauma.

She added, Sanderson expressed remorse by his guilty plea at the earliest opportunity and he had no previous convictions for sexual offending.

But, the judge rejected the argument saying there was not one clear expression of remorse by Sanderson in the reports prepared for the court.

The 28-year-old of Wesley Street, in Coundon Grange, near Bishop Auckland, must serve two thirds of his sentence before being considered for parole. When eventually released, he will be subject to an eight-year extended licence. He was made subject of a restraining order forbidding him from entering County Durham or contacting the victim or her family and also of a sexual harm prevention order and registration as sex offender, both for life.