AN award-winning PhD student who sexually assaulted two women in “terrifying” attacks has been jailed for five years.
Pasquale Galianni, 31, carried out the attacks in St Andrews in November 2013 and April 2014 when he was an astronomy student at the town’s university.
Sentencing Galianni at the High Court in Glasgow, Lord Burns said he had a “disturbing interest in voyeurism” which led him to “follow and molest” young women.
He jailed Galianni and also ordered him to serve an extended sentence of two years, which means he will be monitored and supervised for that period upon release.
Galianni had completed 95 per cent of his PhD at the time of the assaults but has since been expelled from the university and has not been allowed to complete his thesis.
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In the first attack, on 28 November 2013, he sexually assaulted a woman near halls of residence in North Haugh, where he dragged her into undergrowth, pinned her to the ground and tried to remove her tights and underwear. He ran off after she screamed, the court heard.
In the second incident, on 10 April last year, he sexually assaulted another woman in North Haugh, seizing hold of her, placing his hand between her legs and grabbing her.
He admitted both charges halfway through his trial at the High Court in Glasgow, where he was cleared of a third charge of raping a woman at a flat in the town.
Sentencing him, Lord Burns said: “These girls were attacked while walking alone near their hall of residence. They were subjected to brief but terrifying sexual assaults.
“Women in this country are entitled to expect that they can walk safely in our streets without being subjected to such attacks.”
Galianni had previously been convicted for a sex offence in Germany, the court heard.
Lord Burns said: “It is clear that you have a disturbing interest in voyeurism that leads you to follow and molest young girls.
“You have a degree of insight into your problems and have support from your parents and girlfriend but you don’t seem to have any ability to control or correct this flaw in your character.”
The 31-year-old was sentenced to two years and six months for each charge, to be served consecutively.
In 2013, Galianni was awarded the Cormack Prize of the Royal Society of Edinburgh for the best journal paper by a research student in astronomy at a Scottish university.
He had been working on testing cosmological models of dark matter versus modified gravity in the first part of his PhD studies.
His defence advocate, Murray Macara QC, said of Galianni: “He had completed about 95 per cent of his PhD and anticipated completing his PhD within a month of these offences.
“As a result he has been expelled from St Andrews and has lost the opportunity of doing a PhD at St Andrews.”