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Roman Horvat jailed after rape near Dreamland in Margate

A 15-year-old schoolgirl feared she was going to die when a “Good Samaritan” turned rapist after offering a lift near Dreamland in Margate on New Year's Day.

The drunken youngster, who had been downing vodka and Red Bulls, was on her way to a friend’s party when she was seen by a 25-year-old factory worker.

But instead of taking her to Cliftonville, Roman Horvat stopped in a deserted car park where she claimed he put his hands around the terrified teenager’s throat before attacking her.

Roman Horvat, who was jailed after admitting a rape. Picture: Kent Police
Roman Horvat, who was jailed after admitting a rape. Picture: Kent Police

The victim later told police: “He had both hands around the front of my throat and I couldn’t breathe.

"He wouldn’t let go..I thought I was going to die. I was panicky and tears were running down my face.”

Horvat, of Lewis Crescent, Cliftonville was traced after detectives scoured footage from CCTV cameras for his vehicle and arrested him.

He later admitted the rape but claimed he hadn't known the victim’s age and denied putting his hands around her throat.

A jury at Canterbury Crown Court had started listening to the case when Horvat dramatically changed his plea to guilty.

They had heard how after his arrest he had told police officers: “I’ve lost everything, my house, my car, my kids and my job..because of New Year.”

And now he has lost his liberty after being jailed for seven years and two months..and faces being kicked out of the UK when he is released.

Judge Rupert Lowe told him: “As a 15-year-old (your victim) was perfectly entitled to be out and about, partying in Margate and to be walking the streets on her own.

“And she was entitled to do so safely. You offered her a lift but you weren’t interested in give her a lift..your interest was only sexual.

“Some might say she naively accepted your offer.Why shouldn’t she accept a lift..and to do so safely? There is no reason whatsoever why a child should not expect to be safe out at night on New Year’s Eve!”

The case was heard at Canterbury Crown Court
The case was heard at Canterbury Crown Court

Prosecutor Catherine Donnelly had told how the victim was on her way to a party at 1.30am New Year’s Day and became aware of a silver car stopping.

“A man said: ’Do you want a lift?’ and she got into the car and at that time she wasn’t concerned. But when she asked him to turn towards the High Street, he carried on driving.

“At that stage he began touching her and then pulled up in the car park where he climbed on top of her and tried to kiss her.

“She froze. He then put both of his hands around her throat so that she could not breathe and she thought she was going to die.She was panicking and started to cry.”

“You knew she was drunk and If you are remorseful it is remorse which has arrived extremely late in the day" - Judge Rupert Lowe

After raping her, he threw her mobile phone against the door before she manage to get out asked for help from two passing strangers, who described her as “petrified and in distress”.

The judge said Horvat had made the teenager a “prisoner” in his car and then attacked her leaving still suffering from nightmares many months later.

Horvat, who came to the UK from Slovakia five years ago, said he now felt remorse.

But the judge told him: “You knew she was drunk and If you are remorseful it is remorse which has arrived extremely late in the day.”

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Horvat took advantage of his young victim’s situation by luring her into a false sense of security before subjecting her to a terrifying attack.

“It is thanks to his victim’s tremendous courage in speaking out about her ordeal that Horvat is now behind bars.

“We hope she has received all necessary support to help her recover from what took place.”

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