A student who lost her unborn child after a savage sex attack said she will never recover.

Katherine Pettyfer, 21, said she will never forget the moment Joseph Porter burst into her flat and attacked her.

Porter was jailed for life at Lewes Crown Court yesterday, and Katherine has bravely shed her anonymity to speak about the case. She said: "It completely destroyed my entire life. Everything I've ever worked for and everything I'd ever dreamed of doing I now won't do."

Since the attack in August, Katherine, 21, has been unable to spend any time alone. She said: "For weeks I had to be babysat by my mother and my friends and partner. I couldn't be alone, but I was terrible company. Sometimes I just wanted to curl up and make the whole world go away."

The frenzied attack left Katherine bleeding from blows to the head with a frying pan, a casserole dish and Porter's fists. Her attacker also strangled her until she came close to losing consciousness.

But she said it was the fear of being raped which terrified her most. Instead of shielding her head, she fought off her attacker's sexual assaults: "I didn't even notice I was bleeding until I called the police afterwards and blood was dripping down the phone. I was just concerned with not being raped.

"It's unbelievable I didn't die. He was three or four times bigger than me. The amount of force he exerted, it was only sheer luck he didn't kill me."

Katherine says she feels anger and hate for her attacker. But she added: "It's not as simple as that. I don't take pleasure in the idea of him being locked up in a box and being miserable. I do feel relieved he'll never have the chance to do anything like that again.

"But angry people who are treated badly and left with no constructive outlets for their anger only get worse."

Katherine had moved into the flat on Sillwood Street only days before the attack . Porter found his weapons in the unpacked boxes which lined the hall.

Katherine was left with nowhere to live after she came out of hospital. Together with her partner, Spencer Sunar, she spent months living in other people's houses.

From holding down a full-time job and a degree course in photography at Brighton University, Katherine's life fell apart. She was unable to keep up with her studies, and was dismissed from her job as a support worker for people with learning difficulties.

She says without her partner she would not have been able to cope: "He's an absolute star. He's been wonderfully supportive." But she feels she has had her youth stolen, and that is something she can never get back.

Porter sat with his head bowed as Lewes Crown Court heard how he burst into Katherine's home last August 18. She had popped over the nearby Waitrose supermarket for groceries and returned to her home at 8.30pm.

She took the shopping bags into the kitchen and was about to shut the front door when she saw Porter. He was standing in the doorway and she asked him who he was and what he wanted.

Porter made no reply and Katherine tried to push him away. She was about to slam the door when he took hold of her shoulders and shoved her into the flat. Porter pushed her to the floor, kneeled astride her and put both hands round her throat, demanding money. Katherine produced a £5 note from her wallet but Porter demanded more.

Adrian Chaplin QC, prosecuting, said: "She was extremely frightened and feared she would be killed." Porter, still pinning her by the throat to the floor, twice indecently assaulted her.

She screamed for help and Porter punched her in the face, saying again he was going to have her, and replaced his hands round her throat each time.

Katherine begged him again, telling him she was pregnant, but Porter replied, "Don't make matters worse", and hit her again. She feigned unconsciousness but the ploy failed when he noticed her wincing with pain as he again sexually assaulted her.

This time Porter picked up a frying pan and hit her twice on the head. Porter suddenly got off her and walked towards her bedroom. Katherine seized the opportunity and ran outside through patio doors and called the police on her mobile phone.

There was no sign of Porter when police arrived. She was rushed to hospital where doctors put 11 stitches in her head wounds. Her right eye was black and there were marks all round her throat.

It was the following day, while she was making a statement to police, Katherine believes she miscarried. Fearing she had contracted a sexually-transmitted disease, she underwent treatment which caused headaches and nausea, and her weight dropped three stone to just over six stone.

She found it hard to be on her own and her mother and boyfriend moved in to comfort her. But terms of her lease meant too many were living there and she was evicted.

A month after the attack, Katherine picked out Porter in a catalogue of police photographs and it was used in appeals through the Argus. A regular drug user with a criminal record, Porter was living with his girlfriend in Madeira Place and was planning to travel to his native Stockport to visit relatives that day.

Instead, he spent his travel money on drink and bets, and found himself wandering around in Sillwood Street. After the attack, he went on the run and it was an off duty policeman, out walking his dog, who found Porter at Seaford Head, Seaford.

Porter, whose convictions include six counts of violence from 1993 to 1996, was jailed for life under the Government's recently introduced Crime Sentences Act. Two serious offences and defendants automatically face life.

Judge Richard Brown said Porter's savage attack was something Miss Pettyfer would never fully get over. "I have no doubt it was an absolute nightmare."

Porter was jailed for life for assault, five years for indecent assault and five years for robbery. He pleaded guilty on all counts.

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