Two men who high-fived each other after filming themselves raping a woman in a Soho nightclub have been jailed.
Ferdinando Orlando, 25, and Lorenzo Costanzo, 26, both Italian nationals, carried out the attack in the maintenance room of the Toy Room club on Argyll Street in central London on February 26 2017.
CCTV captured the men high-fiving and hugging each other afterwards, while their 23-year-old victim lay abandoned in the club’s toilets in extreme pain.
Police said the two men escaped justice for more than a year after the attack, by returning to Italy, but they were eventually caught after Costanzo returned to the UK to watch an Arsenal versus AC Milan football match in 2018.
Following a trial, a jury found both men guilty of two counts of rape each.
Judge Giles Curtis-Raleigh sentenced Orlando and Costanzo to seven-and-a-half years in prison each at Isleworth Crown Court on Friday.
Sentencing the two men, the judge said they had committed “very serious offences” against “an entirely innocent and vulnerable young woman”.
He said that as the defendants led the victim off the dance floor of the club to the maintenance room they were “clearly acting together”.
The judge noted that afterwards the pair exhibited “what was referred to as triumphalist behaviour”.
Commenting on the victim’s injuries, the judge highlighted that medical evidence in the trial “makes it clear that the doctors cannot say how that injury happened” and as a result the defendants would not be sentenced on the basis they caused it.
Both men put the victim through a traumatic ordeal
The judge said the victim had suffered “very considerable psychological harm” and noted that she had since been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.
In an impact statement, the victim said she remembered feeling in “incredible pain” and was left barely able to walk.
The rape has left her in “constant fear” and unable to relax or enjoy drinking with friends when she goes out.
She said: “I truly struggle with how two humans could behave like such animals to another person and think of that as funny and like a badge of honour.”
Police said CCTV footage from the night of the attack showed the defendants each kissing and dancing with the victim, who was visibly drunk and unsteady on her feet.
Propping her up, and just eight minutes after their first interaction, they lead her into the maintenance room, where there were no cameras, and she was raped.
Police and prosecutors argued the woman’s condition meant she was unable to consent to sex with the men.
About 16 minutes later the three re-emerged, with the defendants rearranging the victim’s clothing before they walk her to the female toilets and abandon her.
The two men ran outside and high-fived each other before watching back footage of the attack on a mobile phone, which they show to another person.
Police said they made lewd gestures and re-enacted to each other their actions during the rape.
The victim was helped home by a French couple, and a housemate called the ambulance service who alerted the police. She was later taken to hospital for surgery for her injuries.
Police said the two men, who had girlfriends at the time, met each other in the UK while studying English in a language school in central London.
Costanzo left the UK just hours after the attack, with Orlando returning home about a week later.
Costanzo was arrested at Heathrow Airport in March 2018, while Orlando later contacted police and returned to the UK by appointment where he was arrested.
I truly struggle with how two humans could behave like such animals to another person
At trial, the two men admitted to watching the mobile phone video of the incident, but claimed they had consensual sex with the victim.
Mitigating, Sarah Elliott QC, representing Orlando, said he was a “fundamentally decent… young man who made a colossal error of judgment”.
Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC, representing Costanzo, said he was of “previous exemplary character” and that there had been no “malice” or “force” but a “terrible error of misjudgment”.
Both said the two men, who have no previous convictions, felt “regret” and “remorse” over the incident.
At an earlier hearing, Costanzo collapsed and was taken to hospital.
Police said that as Orlando’s guilty verdict came in, his co-defendant apparently fainted and hit his head on the glass courtroom dock “very loudly” and was left on the floor “convulsing”.
Lawyers representing him in court took the verdict on Costanzo’s behalf.
Detective Sergeant Rebecca Woodsford, from the Metropolitan Police, said: “Both men put the victim through a traumatic ordeal.
“She has been left with severe psychological injuries and was injured that night, which caused her and police to suspect she had been a victim of assault, she was not aware until the defence put their case to her in court, the full extent of what had happened in that maintenance room.”
A spokesman for the Toy Room nightclub said: “We’re appalled by this incident, and our thoughts go out to the victim.
“The safety of our guests is our top priority, and we’ve done everything we can to co-operate fully with the police, to help them bring this case to trial and ensure a conviction.”