A MAN accused of a vicious rape on a motorway embankment told a jury: "I was not the attacker."

Former security guard Andrew Malkinson claims he is a victim of mistaken identity.

He told Manchester Crown Court yesterday he was asleep in bed at the time of the rape last summer. The victim, a 33-year-old Kearsley woman, was dragged on to an embankment by the M61, raped, strangled and left for dead in the early hours of July 19, 2003.

She was walking home after a row with her boyfriend when she was attacked in Cleggs Lane on the border of Bolton and Little Huton.

She was strangled until she was unconscious. When she came round, she ran to the nearest road to get help.

Malkinson, aged 38, of Grimsby, who was staying with a colleague at Aspinall Court, Atherton, at the time, said he had drunk beer on his own and gone to bed at around 10pm on the night of the attack.

Asked how the victim had come to pick him out at an identity parade, he said: "I say it was a case of mistaken identity."

The jury heard that Malkinson had been staying at a house in Walkden belonging to a couple he had befriended while on holiday in Gran Canaria for three weeks, before moving out two weeks before the attack.

Malkinson told the court he had moved out of the house in Kingsley Road after his relationship with the couple had become strained.

After spending two weeks at colleague Simon Oakes's flat in Atherton, he returned to see his family in Grimsby and was arrested on August 2.

Malkinson insisted that was the first he had heard of the attack, and denied he had been the man spotted by witnesses near to the scene of the attack at 4.30am in the morning.

Although the witnesses told the court earlier this week that the man had a distinctively shiny chest, Jeffrey Samuels, defending, showed the court photographs of Malkinson on holiday in May which showed he had "established chest hair".

Malkinson, who had been living in Holland for around 10 years, also denied that he had ever visited the scene of the attack during his short stay in the area. He denied wearing dark boots similar to those the attacker was seen in, but admitted he had similar footwear for his job as a security guard at the Ellesmere Shopping Centre in Walkden.

Michael Leeming, prosecuting, said: "Mr Malkinson, I suggest you had the opportunity to commit this attack on this woman. You lived in the locality and you were on your own at the relevant time."

Malkinson replied: "I suppose I had the opportunity."

Mr Leaming went on: "You are a man who is physically fit and could have overwhelmed this woman. I suggest the witnesses have got it right. You must have thought you had got away with it."

Malkinson said: "I was not the attacker."