A DEPRAVED rapist who spent 24 years in prison for his sickening crimes grabbed a woman at knife point before attempting to drag her onto wasteland to sexually assault her after his release.

Balaclava-wearing Philip Hann pounced on the woman as she walked along a quiet footpath but she bravely fought him off as she clung onto a wire fence to defend herself.

Hann was released from a life sentence in 2018 after carrying out three horrendous attacks on women in the early 90s.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the defendant carried out a campaign of terror of women in Hartlepool when he launched the horrendous sexual attacks three women over a two-year period while armed with a knife and wearing a balaclava.

The Northern Echo: Philip HannPhilip Hann

Robin Patton, prosecuting, said Hann had left his Stockton home last year armed with a knife, carrying a homemade balaclava, and wearing several layers of clothing with the intent of carrying out a serious sexual offence.

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The court heard how the victim was walking along a path at the Tees Barrage when she was attacked by Hann.

Mr Patton said: “She was confronted by a masked man, this defendant, brandishing a knife and was running at her. He took hold of her, put his arm around her and put the knife to her face causing a cut.

“He started to drag her towards a hole in the fence, she was terrified and she was determined that he wasn’t going to get her through the fence onto some wasteland as she thought he was going to rape her.”

Mr Patton said after a struggle, the victim started to cry and the defendant gave up on his attack and told her run away.

Hann, 55, fled from the scene while discarding his top layer of clothing and balaclava in an attempt to avoid detection, however, another man spotted him acting suspiciously and alerted police who were searching for the suspect.

Following his arrest, police recovered an unregistered mobile phone belonging to Hann and they discovered a number of photographs of vulnerable young women in isolated areas which had been taken without their knowledge.

The Northern Echo: Tees BarrageTees Barrage

Mr Patton said the victim had been left was a permanent scar of her face and was still struggling to come to terms with the attack on her.

Dealing with Hann’s previous offences, the court heard how he was sentenced to life for rape and serious sexual assault on three young women.

Hann, of Skinner Street, Stockton, pleaded guilty to a charge of kidnap, committing an offence with the intent to carry out a sexual offence, and possession of a knife.

Vincent Blake-Barnard, in mitigation, said his client had not carried the sexual assault after seeing the level of distress he was causing to his intended victim.

He added: “In this case, unlike the offences which took place 27 years ago, upon the resistance and upset upon the victim, he has released her and told her flee, to get away.”

Judge Christopher Smith sentenced Hann to a life sentence with a minimum term of seven years and two months in custody.

“You engaged in a considerable degree of planning before you committed this offence,” he said. “You had been following a photographing young women in the area in the weeks beforehand.

“You had made yourself a balaclava to avoid detection, you had armed yourself with a knife and having identified a lone victim, you used that knife to threaten her and cause harm.

“It may take your victim years to recover from this traumatic ordeal, if indeed that is ever possible.”

Hann was placed on the sex offenders’ register for the remainder of his life.

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