When cat cruelty is one stage on the journey to becoming a serial rapist

It is often said that animal abuse is a staging post for a young person, usually male, on his journey to more serious crime and often the most serious of crimes. This is a classic example. It concerns a Polish man whose name is Antoni Imiela. Antoni was an angelic-looking boy but he was raised in a dysfunctional family initially in Germany and then in the UK.

Toni Imiela
Toni Imiela — Image: North News and Pictures
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

His father was a Polish soldier and his mother was German. For the first seven years of his life he lived in Germany in displaced persons’ camps. They moved to Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, UK.

Toni’s mother struggled with the English language and was ill-treated by her husband. She eventually walked out of the home one day having gone to purchase some fish and chips. Toni’s father took over the parenting and did an horrendous job of it. He beat his children. Toni rapidly developed into a criminal-minded individual who when he was 15 routinely raped a 13-year-old girl on a bus.

At the end the girl accepted it. He was the gang leader so other boys joined in. At this time, as a schoolchild, we are told that he took delight in setting fire to stray cats and dogs in a field. He committed also petty crimes and was sent to Borstal (young offenders jail) and on his release went to London. He struggled to earn money conventionally and began to burgle businesses and properties in the north-east of England and also dealt in drugs. He also stole cars.

To some people he was a charming individual. He had a strong accent which made him recognisable when he began to do armed robberies with an antique sawn-off shotgun. He had sex with men and women and acquired sexual diseases which he passed onto his partners.

He was jailed for 14 years in 1988 for armed robberies and was released in 1996. He married a woman, a former beauty queen whose name is Christine Ashenden. They lived in the village of Appledore, Kent. Toni then began to rape women. He became a brutally aggressive serial rapist. He would punch the women and threaten them with imminent death unless they complied. He even telephoned one girl’s parents to tell what he was doing while he did it. He returned home exhausted at night telling his wife that he was working long hours and overtime.

His first victim was a 10-year-old girl he snatched from outside a police-run youth club. She was raped and abandoned in a nearby woodland. He raped over and over again but eventually the police net closed on him due to leaving DNA at the crime scene. He was caught, convicted and imprisoned. He died in prison at 63-years-of-age of heart failure due to a heart condition. He was slumped over the table in his cell. He had received seven life sentences in 2004.

The interesting but very sad and not untypical aspect of the story is the way he tortured stray cats by setting them alight for his pleasure. A classic example of how animal cruelty is often part of the journey for career criminals who then graduate to the most serious of crimes. In the USA the FBI understand this. Registers are being set up of animal abusers so that the authorities can take proactive action against them.

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