A MAN 'who abused a vulnerable woman in the most horrific way' has been given a life sentence after being found guilty of drugging and raping her.

Zulfiqar Asif attacked a women at addresses in Blackburn and Colne.

The 38-year-old was jailed on Monday following a trial at Preston Crown Court and must serve a minimum of eight years in prison.

The crimes occurred between the end of 2014 and February this year at two different addresses.

Asif, of Halifax Road, Nelson, administered drugs to knock the victim unconscious before raping her.

On several occasions he recorded the abuse on his mobile phone, which was seized by police and used in evidence during his trial.

Despite consistently denying his guilt the jury found him guilty of one count of administering a noxious substance, three counts of rape and one count of controlling or coercive behaviour.

DC Melissa Chadwick, who led the investigation, said: “Asif is a dangerous individual who manipulated a vulnerable woman and abused her in the most horrific way.

“I am grateful to the jury for considering all the evidence and coming to the conclusion they did.

"A predatory sex offender has been taken off the streets and it will be at least eight years before he can even be considered for parole.

“I hope the fact Asif is now behind bars will enable the victim to move forward with her life.”

After hearing the result of the case Rachel Horman, head of domestic abuse and stalking at Watson Ramsbottom Solicitors, said she hopes the severity of the sentence will encourage others to come forward.

The solicitor said: "That sort of abuse is certainly something I'm coming across more and more in East Lancashire and nationally.

"I feel that using drugs and grooming takes place in lots of sexual offences.

"It's fantastic to see the courts take it seriously and handing out a proper sentence.

"All too often crimes like this aren't given severe enough sentences so I'm pleased to see it has been treated very seriously.

"Hopefully the victim will feel it was right to come forward.

"Coming forward is a really hard thing for people to do.

"But when they see you will be believed and people will be properly sentenced it will encourage women affected to come forward.

"It's important women come forward to report horrendous crimes like this."