High-fiving students found guilty of rape
A PAIR of Italian students who high-fived and hugged one another in celebration after raping a 23-year-old Australian woman were jailed for seven-and-a-half years today.
Italians Lorenzo Costanzo, 26, and Ferdinando Orlando, 25, had met the victim in a London nightclub just eight minutes before they escorted her to a maintenance room where they raped her.
The students were seen on CCTV footage brazenly showing off the filmed rape to a friend, re-enacting it, and celebrating with one another.
The victim was found an hour later by security guard in the toilet with severe wounds to her genitals. She was taken to hospital by strangers following the attack in February 2017.
The pair were snared by the CCTV from the Toy Room in Soho, central London, as they celebrated, as the victim had no recollection of the assault.
Police revealed that they could not discuss the evidence of the attack with her for fear of prejudicing the case and the first time she discovered the detail of what had happened to her was when she was cross-examined in court.
She said she was receiving therapy for severe psychological trauma and was living in "constant fear".
In an impact statement, the young woman said: "I don't remember a lot but I do remember being in incredible pain … I could barely walk from the pain.
"When I was first told that the two suspects had been caught, it was like I had been violated all over again and I felt like I went into shock.
"I had never considered for a minute that there had been more than one person that violated me so badly.
"I learnt that they laughed and high-fived as they left the club - like they were proud of what they had just done. This again made me feel so angry and made me want to vomit.
"I truly struggle with how two humans could behave like such animals to another person and think of that as funny and like a badge of honour. I have no control over who they have shown the footage or images to.
"I did not consent to having sex with either or both of these people that night or at any other time.
"I hope that one day I will no longer feel like a victim and will feel proud of myself for staying so strong."
Judge Giles Curtis-Raleigh at Isleworth Crown Court, west London, described the attackers of "young men of good character".
"You acted on the night wholly out of character. The sentence will have a profound effect on your lives. You caused damage to your innocent families, but you have committed very serious offences," he said.
"The impact on her life is profound. Giving you as much credit as I can, I impose seven and a half years imprison concurrent on each count. You will serve half of that in custody."
The two men will also be on the sex offenders register for life.
Detective Sergeant Rebecca Woodsford said following the case: "The CCTV evidence was key in this case.
"The high fiving and hugging simply shows what they thought of what they had done, the proud celebratory behaviour really demonstrates exactly how they felt about it," she said.
"I thought it was really shocking footage. I have not seen footage like that before but I really think it demonstrates the thought process and how they felt about the whole incident."
DS Woodsford said it was the first time she had seen a conviction for a sexual crime case without a "clear allegation" as the victim had no recollection of the attack.
Detectives had to build a case to present to the CPS for a European arrest warrant after the pair returned home to Italy after the incident and they were listed as "wanted."
But police were alerted when Costanzo flew back into the UK to watch Arsenal play Milan in the Europa League and he was arrested on arrival.
Weeks later, police were contacted by Orlando's solicitor to say he had been made aware of the investigation and he was going to fly to the UK and hand himself in.