A sex attacker who brutally raped a pensioner as she made her way to a Christmas dance has been jailed for seven-and-a-half years .
James Black, 40, struck after the woman began walking through an unlit lane towards a hall in Saltcoats, Ayrshire.
A judge told Black: "You were convicted, on your own plea, of an extremely grave sexual offence, namely the rape to injury of a 67-year-old retired lady who was to all intents a stranger to you."
Lord Arthurson said at the High Court in Edinburgh that the offence was "wholly despicable and utterly abhorrent".
The judge said: "On your own account, on the day in question you had been drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis and were angry."
He told Black, formerly of Stevenston, Ayrshire, that he would have faced a 10-year prison sentence but for his guilty plea.
The judge also ordered that Black should be kept under supervision for a further three years and warned that if he breached licence conditions during that period he could be returned to prison.
Black earlier admitted assaulting and raping the woman in December 8 last year at a lane at Canal Street, in Saltcoats.
During the attack he grabbed the victim, put an arm across her neck and struggled with her before putting his hands round her neck and forcing her to the ground.
Black pulled down the woman's leggings and pants and forced her legs apart before raping her during the violent ordeal.
The sex attacker was later arrested in connection with another matter but told police: "That wisnae me. I chased a guy away from there."
He then told a social worker that he had fallen out with his girlfriend, had followed someone, that something bad had happened and the woman was "very scared".
Forensic scientists also found material linking Black to the attack on the woman who was unable to provide a description of the rapist.
Advocate depute Mark McGuire said that the woman travelled to Saltcoats to meet a relative and they went for a drink at a pub before she went to another bar on her way to the Christmas event.
After leaving the bar she began walking through the lane when Black approached her from behind and put his arm across her neck.
The woman struggled and tried to push him away but was forced to the ground. She kicked out to try to stop him taking off her boots, but he pulled down her pants and leggings and prised her legs apart.
The prosecutor said: "Nothing was said by either the accused or the complainer during the rape."
Black fled following the sex attack and the woman went to the dance venue. She revealed what had happened to her to a barmaid and a taxi driver who encouraged her to contact the police.
She woke the following morning with pain in her back and thighs and saw her legs were bruised. She later spoke to a relative who called the police.
A trawl of CCTV footage showed the woman leaving a bar with a man following her a short time later. He was seen returning to the bar about half an hour later with a hand injury and dried blood on his head and hand.
The victim was found to have extensive bruising on her inner thighs, including finger mark imprints and injury to her genital area.
Defence counsel Lorraine Glancy said that alcohol and drugs have been "problematic issues" for Black in the past.
She said Black understood that a prison sentence was the only disposal available and added: "It is fair to say that he, upon his release into the community, will require close supervision."
Black was placed on the sex offenders' register indefinitely.