A 61-year-old man who posed as a Good Samaritan to help a woman who had her mobile phone stolen offered her a lift home – and then raped her in the back of his van.

Andrew Mills tricked the victim by offering her help in the form of a lift home after a thief stole her phone.

He met the distressed woman in Gravesend town centre, Kent, while she was being helped by a group of people just after midnight on 6 August 2019.

Mills joined the group and offered to drive the victim home in his van, which she accepted.

But instead of taking her home, he subjected the victim to a prolonged attack in his vehicle during the journey.

She eventually convinced him to let her get out of the vehicle, and after escaping, she used her quick thinking to write down his number plate using her concealer.

Police said this helped officers quickly track Mills down and arrest him.

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The victim contacted police at 2am and gave officers his number plate, after which a patrol car located the van parked near Mills' home on the same morning.

When officers knocked on his door, he admitted being with the victim and was arrested on suspicion of rape.

At Woolwich Crown Court, Mills denied two counts of rape and three other sexual offences, but after a trial, was found guilty by a jury of each charge.

On Wednesday, he was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Detective Inspector Ross Gurden, a senior investigating officer at Kent Police, described Mills as a dangerous and "opportunistic predator".

He said: "Mills has shown himself to be an opportunistic predator who poses an extreme danger to women.

"It would have been abundantly clear to him that the victim was distressed and vulnerable, and he exploited this in the worst and most deceitful way imaginable.

"Despite being put through a traumatic ordeal, the victim showed exceptional courage in managing to get out of the van and had commendable presence of mind in quickly using her concealer to write down his registration number.

"I am pleased that we have now secured justice for her. While nothing is going to undo the harm Mills has caused, I sincerely hope that she can take a degree of reassurance from the result of this case."

If you or somebody you know has been affected by this story, contact Victim Support for free, confidential advice on 0845 30 30 900 or visit their website, www.victimsupport.org.uk.

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