Award-winning PhD student jailed for five years for sexual attacks in St Andrews

Pasquale Galianni
Pasquale Galianni

An award-winning former St Andrews University PhD student has been jailed for five years for sex attacks on two students.

Pasquale Galianni (31) committed the assaults at St Andrews campus at North Haugh, on November 28, 2013 and April 10, last year.

At the High Court in Glasgow, judge Lord Burns told Galianni, who is Italian: “It is clear you have a disturbing interest in voyeurism and this led you to follow and sexually assault young women.

”Both these girls were attacked while walking alone near to their halls of residence and then they were each subjected to a brief, but terrifying sexual assault. All women in this country are entitled to be able to go about their business without being subjected to such humiliating attacks.”

Lord Burns said that the sexual assaults which shocked the student community in St Andrews were “very similar” to attacks Galianni committed on three students in Germany in 2006 for which he received a suspended sentence, but spent 10 months on remand.

He ordered Galianni to be monitored in the community for two years after his release from prison because of the danger he poses to the public. Although the judge accepted that Gialianni may be deported back to Italy at the end of his sentence.

The court heard that Galianni has been expelled from St Andrews University.

Galianni admitted the offences halfway through trial.

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, 2014, 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 The rape charge was withdrawn by prosecutors.

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.

He 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.

Defence QC Murray Macara said: “He completed 95 per cent of his PhD on Dark energy – exploring the dark universe. As a result of this conviction he has been expelled from St Andrews University.

“He is an extremely gifted individual, but this flaw in his character is having a devastating effect on his career.”

Galianni was arrested following a major police investigation by the Divisional Rape Investigation Unit which included the release of CCTV images of the suspect walking through the town.

The Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Michelle Johnson said: “I would like to thank all the young women who came forward and would commend their courage in reporting these incidents to police. Their bravery allowed us to launch an investigation leading to the capture of this sexual predator and to prevent him from further attacks on women.

“The public response to our UK wide appeal for information greatly assisted in identifying this man. We would like to thank both the public and the media for their help.

“Tackling sexual crime is a priority for Police Scotland. The National Rape Taskforce and rape investigation units across Scotland work with partners to share information and to ensure the effective investigation of all sexual crimes reported to the police.

“Our approach to tackling sexual crime is victim focused and we work with partners to ensure that people receive the support they need, when they need it. We would encourage anyone subjected to a serious sexual assault to contact Police Scotland. We will listen and we will investigate.”