A MAN who grabbed a woman round her neck during a "wicked" attempt to rape her in his van dumped her in a field after she lost consciousness.

Following his arrest the next day Jason Croker claimed the woman had asked him for a lift and was uninjured when he dropped her off where she had asked him to.

But that was a lie, and Croker, 38, of Oldbury Close, Redditch, was jailed for nine years after a jury at Warwick Crown Court found him guilty of attempted rape.

Prosecutor Harpreet Sandhu said Croker and the woman, in her 30s, had been friends with Croker for several years but they had never been in a relationship.

In May 2013 Croker contacted the woman by text, saying he had just come back to the UK and Spain, which was a lie, asking her if she would help empty some of his stuff from a storage facility.

Croker collected a van and drove to the woman’s home and they then travelled back in it.

When the woman asked where the storage facility was, he stalled, saying not to worry about it and that he would take her back afterwards.

She didn’t think anything about it at the time, but there was no storage, and they ended up in a country lane, Saddlebow Lane, near Claverdon, where he drove into a field.

Croker got out and asked her for sex using graphic language and she made it clear she did not.

Mr Sandu said: "That unfortunately did not prevent Mr Croker from trying to get what he wanted and trying to take advantage of his friend whose generosity he had preyed upon.

"He got back into the driver’s side. She was effectively trapped. He tried to force her clothes off. He pinned her down and undid his trousers while continuing to hold her down.

"He told her that if she did not consent he was going to force himself on her.

"She did everything she could to try to stop him. She punched him some three times to his head, but her efforts were in vain; he was too strong for her. He touched her sexually and assaulted her sexually."

During the assault he took hold of her round the throat and squeezed so hard and for so long that she lost consciousness.

"Because she had passed out, only one person knows what happened next. But, having caused her to lose consciousness, he dumped her body in the field and disappeared in the van. He left her stranded and secluded."

The victim had an injured ankle, but managed to hobble to the road and flag down motorist Anne Wallbank who was passing with her daughter and told them she thought she had been raped.

Mrs Wallbank took her to police officers and she was taken to hospital with injuries consistent with what she said had happened, added Mr Sandhu.

But Croker denied trying to rape her, claiming it was the woman who had contacted him asking him to give her a lift to visit someone.

He said he dropped her off and she had been fine.

Croker could not explain why she would leave her keys and her phone if she had left the van voluntarily.

After the jury returned its unanimous verdict, James Doyle, defending, submitted that the degree of violence did not go "beyond what is inherent in the offence".

And he argued: "There is a question mark whether those acts caused her to pass out in the van or whether on being thrown out and hitting her head."

He said Croker, a supervisor with DHL, was undergoing a separation from his wife, but conceded: "It is a crying shame he didn’t take a more realistic view of this case before we got to trial."

Jailing Croker, and ordering him to register as a sex offender for life, Judge Richard Griffith-Jones said "This was wicked and deceitful selfishness. You made up your mind you were going to gratify yourself sexually with this poor woman."

He added: "You used considerable violence on her. You left her unconscious in a field so you could get away. You had no idea how badly hurt she was. She could have died."

After sentencing Croker, the judge praised the police, commenting: “This was an extremely well investigated case and an extremely well prepared case. The officer in the case should be commended for her work on it.”