PhD student admits St Andrews sex attacks

North Haugh, on the university campus, where the assaults were committed. Picture: geograph.co.uk
North Haugh, on the university campus, where the assaults were committed. Picture: geograph.co.uk
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A DISGRACED award-winning PhD student at the University of St Andrews has admitted carrying out sex attacks on two women.

Pasquale Galianni, 31, who won the prestigious Cormack Prize of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2013, committed the assaults on the university’s campus at North Haugh, on November 28, 2013 and April 10, 2014.

Today at the High Court in Glasgow judge Lord Burns placed Galianni on the sex offenders register and deferred sentence on him.

Pasquale’s first victim - a 19-year-old student - was grabbed, dragged into undergrowth, pinned to the ground. Galianni then tried to remove her tights and underwear. The attack happened around 5.30pm.

The student said, in evidence: “He was holding me down and trying to take my tights down.”

She added: “I just remember him saying ‘pretty lady’. I thought he sounded foreign. It wasn’t a British accent. “

When asked how she felt she replied: “Terrified. He was very strong and I didn’t think I would be able to push him off.”

The student said she tried to make a call to her boyfriend on her mobile phone during the terrifying incident and added: “I screamed and basically after I’d screamed he got up and ran off in the direction I’d just come from.”

Galianni was so close to his victim that his cheek was pressed against hers and forensic experts were able to obtain DNA which could only have come from him or one of his close male relatives.

The student managed to walk to a nearby bus stop and called a friend for help.

Her friend, a fellow St Andrews student, also 19, told the court how she arrived at the bus stop to take her friend back to the halls of residence.

She told the jury: “She phoned me and was crying. I asked her what was wrong and she said: ‘Oh my, I’ve just almost been raped come and get me.’”

The student said that when she got to the bus stop her friend was crying and she added: “Just crying in the dark.”

The second victim was attacked by Galianni on April 10 this year after he followed her, grabbed her, put his arms round her. He then placed one of his hands between her legs and grabbed her buttocks.

Galianni admitted the offences halfway through the trial.

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He was cleared on a third charge of raping a 26-year-old woman at a flat in Double Dykes Road, St Andrews, on April 9, while she was intoxicated and incapable of giving consent.

She told the court she had an alcoholic blackout and could not say if she had consented to sex with Galianni or not.

Galianni admitted having sex with the woman, but claimed it was consensual.

The jury was shown CCTV of the two of them together and she was not staggering and did not appear drunk.

In evidence, she agreed with defence QC Murray Macara that Galianni may not have realised she was drunk.

She was asked by Mr Macara if she remembered a conversation with Galianni in which he told her he was an astronomer and when she asked him what a star was he told her Jupiter and replied: “I don’t remember that.”

The woman was then asked: What would you say if I were to suggest to you that you took an active part in the sex,” and she said: I can’t comment because I can’t remember.”

The rape charge was withdrawn by advocate depute David Taylor and Galianni was formally acquitted of the charge by judge Lord Burns.

The court heard that Galianni has a previous sex offence in Germany where he studied for a while.

Galianni was awarded the 2013 Cormack Prize of the Royal Society of Edinburgh for the best journal paper by a research student in Astronomy at a Scottish university.

Pasquale was working on testing cosmological models of dark matter versus modified gravity in the first part of his PhD at the department of Physics and Astronomy.

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