A RAPIST is today on the run after he failed to attend his trial and was convicted in his absence.

The jury heard how Jason Vincent Longhurst, 44, throttled a teenager in York until she blacked out and then raped her many years ago.

He had been released from prison from a sentence for driving offences hours earlier and was on prison licence at the time.

Jailing him for nine years on Wednesday, Recorder Mariga Mostafa said the rape had had a “catastrophic effect” on the victim and praised her courage and the way she had given evidence. In a personal statement, the victim said: “I cannot put into words how much this has ruined my life.”

Read more about what she had to say here

Longhurst had denied charges of attempted strangulation with intent to rape and rape at an earlier hearing.

He was convicted unanimously of both charges at York Crown Court and will be on the sex offenders’ register for life.

On Monday the judge had signed a warrant for Longhurst’s arrest when he failed to answer his bail when the trial was expected to start.

Police told the judge the blinds were down in the windows of his home in Lindsey Avenue, Acomb, and no-one answered the door. Longhurst had also failed to attend York Magistrates’ Court in August.

Find out more about Longhurst's flight from justice here

The jury heard a police interview with Longhurst in which he claimed the victim needed her head examining because she was telling people he was a rapist.

“I have never hit her, never slept with her, never had sex with her and never kissed her,” he said.

The jury heard medical evidence supporting the victim’s account that she had been throttled and heard from witnesses who heard the victim scream during the rape and saw Longhurst flee the house where it happened.

There was no defence evidence. After the verdicts, defence barrister Julian Goode said the only mitigation he could give was that none of Longhurst’s 184 previous convictions were for sexual crimes.