Katja, 40, had spent two years trying to arrange the meeting – to let her attacker know she had forgiven him.

The last time she saw him he had forced her off her bike and raped her on a dark footpath.

Now, as the doors of the prison room swung open, she feared what her reaction to the rapist would be.

But she soon felt more at ease.

She said: “He was not a scary sight – just a human being sitting at a table, waiting, anxious.

“I walked over, shook his hand and introduced myself. I wanted to show him it had not affected my life and that I had understood and forgiven him.

"I wanted to free the past. It was positive for me and positive for him.

“I’d be happy to meet him again if he is released at some stage in the future to work with him to encourage others.

"The meeting left me feeling we have a deep and extraordinary understanding as human beings.”

Katja added: “I’m not allowed to reveal any details of the meeting, but I can say it lasted two and a half hours and I found it a rewarding, uplifting experience.”

She felt he had been as brave as her in agreeing to the unusual get-together.

Her attacker was just 16 when he carried out the sex assault as she pedalled home from a drink after work at around 9pm on an October night in 2006.

Before raping her he punched her in the face, stomach and chest.

Afterwards, as he heard someone approaching, he helped her to her feet before throwing her bicycle over a fence and fleeing.

Katja had to have an HIV test, which proved negative, and police arrested her attacker two weeks later.

He was jailed for 14 years after pleading guilty to raping her and a woman of 51 near the same spot shortly afterwards.

Katja, an artist who now runs workshops for disadvantaged children on some of London’s toughest estates, explained how the meeting was arranged through the restorative justice scheme.

It was prompted by an annual letter she received from the Victim Liaison Unit giving her a general update on the case.

She said: “I’d been pressing for an encounter, with little response. But I felt this time I was really going to fight for it.

“I had this strong desire to let him know I had been able to make peace with the incident.

“But it took me two years to finally see him.

"As frustrating as the wait was, it actually had to do with the probation team doing their job well and making sure both parties were well prepared.

"It took a lot of patience and perseverance for everyone – and this is an important factor to take into consideration.

“Eventually it was felt to be the right time. I went on my own from London and was calm and relaxed on the train.

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