A gangmaster believed to have raped a journalism student in a squalid Calais migrants’ camp could be on the loose in Britain.
Police say they think the people smuggler has already left the area and may have fled to the UK to avoid detection.
As horrific details emerged of the 31-year-old student’s ordeal, detectives issued a photo e-fit provided by the victim to all UK ports, as well as British and European police.
Refugees in Calais, France. The student was a journalist reporting on illegal immigration from Calais to Britain
The student – who cannot be named for legal reasons – had travelled to the French port to interview migrants sleeping rough before trying to sneak into Britain.
As she took photographs of a group of Afghan refugees, she was lured into a makeshift hut in the notorious unofficial camp called The Jungle by the gang leader, who told her he wanted to show her something inside.
There he held her down, repeatedly hit her around the face and body, and subjected her to a half-hour rape, police said. Although she screamed for help, no one came to her aid.
French state prosecutor Philippe Muller said he believed the man was a French-speaking people smuggler in his 20s of Afghan or Iraqi appearance.
The human traffickers charge other immigrants up to Â£800 a time for a place in a truck or train to get to England.
Mr Muller said: ‘We think he is a people smuggler because he spoke good French. We have two photo-fit pictures based on her evidence and on that of a third party who saw her with the rapist before the attack.’
The petite brunette had been warned by local police not to go to the camp as it was a dangerous place for lone females.
Squaler: Asylum seekers in the wooded area of ‘The Jungle’
She arrived in Calais last Sunday to produce a report ‘to highlight problems surrounding clandestine immigration’.
Although it appears one man raped her, police said others may face charges of aiding him, or failing to help the victim, whose screams are said to have been audible throughout her ordeal.
The woman, who was born in Canada but has lived most of her life in London, is being treated for physical injuries and undergoing counselling for mental trauma in Calais.
Referring to the alleged rapist, Mr Muller said: ‘The logical route for him to have taken out of France is to England. We are targeting Britain, Belgium and Holland but with people-smuggling contacts he could be as far away as Italy.’
Investigators have traces of the rapist’s DNA and also his fingerprints to help identify him. It is believed he is not a French national but this possibility is not being ruled out, Mr Muller added.
Exposed: A makeshift shelter erected by one of the would-be immigrants
Desperate: A would-be immigrant rests on a filthy old mattress
Yesterday, it also emerged that the camp should have been razed to the ground only last month. A section of the Calais riot squad was given orders to clear out the shelters in mid-July after the council feared its reputation as a no-go area was allowing serious crimes – including drug abuse and stolen property dealing – to carry on unhindered.
Ordeal: The wood where the unnamed journalist went to photograph refugees
Up to 500 migrants – mostly claiming to be from war-torn areas such as Afghanistan and Iraq – live in the damp wood, in a disused part of The Dunes industrial zone.
Although officers carrying mini flamethrowers and armed with batons moved in on a number of no-go areas, fears that the migrants would move to the nearby Tioxide chemical plant meant they held back.
A local council source said: ‘The feeling was that is was safer to keep them in The Jungle for the time being.’
Charities and even the local police admitted it was not safe to go near the area after 6pm – a fact the rape victim ignored.
A police spokesman said: ‘She was working alone, and admits going into The Jungle by herself was naive. She has been through a terrible ordeal and is determined to bring those responsible to justice.’
Police yesterday released ten men, including six who claim to be Afghan refugees, who were being questioned in connection with the attack.
Around two hundred have been rounded up for questioning since the rape on Tuesday evening.