A man who attacked and raped a 44-year-old woman as she returned from a night out was jailed for eight years today.

Raja Chandi from Thornton Heath was sentenced to eight years imprisonment for rape and two years for assault by penetration, to be served concurrently.

The 27-year-old is also being considered for deportation.

Chandi pleaded guilty to both charges when he appeared at Croydon Crown Court on Monday, January 26.

He raped and assaulted the woman in the early hours of July 29 2009, after dragging her into an alleyway off London Road in Thornton Heath.

The woman had been on a night out in central London and was attacked as she made her way home.

Detective Inspector Jackie Wakeford-Smith, said: "From the moment this stranger, who attacked a lone woman was reported, Croydon Sapphire Unit was determined to track him down.

"We now know Chandi is a very dangerous man and I know that to see him imprisoned and unable to commit any further offences is of some comfort to the victim.

"I would encourage anyone who has been a victim of a sexual assault to report it to the police. We will support you and investigate all allegations of sexual assault."

Croydon’s Sapphire team arrested Chandi on 22 August, 2009 and charged him later that day.

Detective Constable Phillip Bates, the Croydon Sapphire officer during the initial investigation, said: "This was a very nasty attack on a vulnerable victim, who has been left scarred and is now hesitant about going out in the evenings.

"The fact that Chandi pleaded guilty at least saved her the trauma of reliving the incident at a trial.

"News that he will be behind bars for a long time will hopefully help her begin to put this terrible ordeal behind her."