AN RAF engineer who carried out a sustained and violent rape in Penzance described as "every woman's worst nightmare" has been jailed for nine and a half years.
In late 2012 Lee Hosking, formerly of Penzance, had just returned to RAF Brize Norton after serving four months in Afghanistan when he was arrested for the brutal attack, which had taken place more than four years previously.
Hosking was caught after a cold case review which identified him through his DNA, which had been found at the scene of a separate, unrelated incident years before.
On Monday at Truro Crown Court, on the morning set for his trial, Hosking, 28 and of RAF Benson, Oxfordshire, changed his plea and admitted three charges of raping the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, while on a night out in Penzance on Sunday, May 5, 2008.
He still claims he cannot remember the attack.
David Evans, for the prosecution, said the woman had been out with friends when at about 12.30am she had decided to call it a night.
She was eating a kebab by her parked car near Penare Road and planning to get a taxi home when Hosking grabbed her from behind and put his hand over her mouth and nose.
He forced her face-down on to the bonnet of the car, pulling at her jeans, before demanding that she undid them.
Mr Evans said: "He was very strong.
"He was forceful, determined and it was all too obvious what he was going to do.
"She was completely and utterly terrified and powerless. She feared he would hurt her badly … she truly thought she would suffocate.
"She thought she was going to die."
Hosking, who was 23 at the time, raped her while covering her mouth and nose, at one point throwing her to the ground and dragging her up a nearby lane where he forced her into the walled courtyard of a house and continued his assault.
The occupant of a flat which backed on to the courtyard heard a disturbance and came out, catching a glimpse of Hosking as he fled the scene, 20 minutes after the sex attack had started.
Police were called and the woman was taken to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, Treliske, where she was treated for multiple cuts, bruises and chest pain from being suffocated.
In a statement read out in court the woman said she had been left with a trauma- induced medical condition as a result of the attack and had lost her job and confidence.
Robert Linford, for the defence, said Hosking had no recollection of the night, a statement which was questioned by the judge.
He said Hosking had since married and had a daughter and that the family would lose their accommodation as a result of the conviction and have to move in with her parents.
"[His wife] is utterly flabbergasted that the kind, loving man that she knew for so long and that she married has been capable of doing this," he said.
Sentencing Hosking, Judge Christopher Harvey Clark QC said the attack was "every woman's worst nightmare" – a "despicable and inhuman crime".