A ‘HEINOUS’ burglar who targeted and attempted to rape a teenage woman in her own home was jailed for thirteen-and-a-half years.

Steven Edwards was only prevented from completing the deed by the valiant resistance of the victim, who eventually locked herself in the bathroom, before her attacker left the flat having stolen her phone and money.

Durham Crown Court heard the distressed woman then felt able to run to her mother’s address wearing only her dressing gown to report what had happened.

The court was told Edwards, a serial burglar, was only weeks into his liberty after his release on licence from a 45-month prison sentence, soon lapsing into a £100-a-day drug habit, shortly before last Christmas.

He contacted the woman by Facebook days before the attack, making inappropriate sexual comments and unwelcome suggestions, which were all rebuffed.

But he knew where she lived and entered her flat complex when a visitor left, at 2pm on January 18.

The woman was in her bedroom after bathing when she heard her flat door open and believed it to be a relative.

Jo Kidd, prosecuting, said the woman, who was in her underwear, was shocked to see the stranger enter the bedroom wearing a mask and cap, carrying a chisel.

He grabbed her, removing her underwear, attempting to choke her, telling her he would release her if she performed oral sex on him.

Edwards repeated the demands as the victim continued to try to fight him off, and it was only when he began to perform a sex act on himself that she fled to the bathroom, and locked herself in.

The victim said she feared for her life during the ordeal, twice almost passing out.

While at large after the attack, Edwards twice burgled student digs in Durham, stealing personal items and a bank card which he used 22 times, before his arrest in the city in late January.

The 31-year-old defendant, of Sixth Street, Horden, admitted attempted rape, three burglaries, one aggravated, plus fraud.

Christine Egerton, for Edwards, said he felt “ashamed” at his actions claiming he may be a “thief and burglar”, but he did not consider himself a rapist and sex offender.

Describing it as, “a heinous crime”, Judge Ray Singh said Edwards made “concerted efforts” to rape the woman.

“She was made of sterner stuff, however, because she was able to escape.”

The judge said there also appeared to have been a significant amount of planning by the defendant.

His sentence was made up of ten years and six months for the attempted rape, of which he must serve two-thirds before being eligible for release, plus three years for the burglaries.

Edwards will be subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and sex offender registration, “until further order”.