Waking on a sofa, Daniel saw bare feet walking around a room he did not recognise. He froze as he tried to piece together how, after his birthday night out, he had ended up there.
His memories cut out after nipping down a lane to go to the toilet and jump started to this moment. Nothing made sense. But an ominous sense of dread saw him bolt for the door and run into the street the instant the barefoot stranger left the room.
It was two years before Daniel found out what happened to him that winter’s night in 2015. A TV news report showed serial rapist Reynhard Sinaga’s flat in Montana House, in Manchester’s student heartland, where he drugged then raped scores of unconscious men and filmed his attacks.
Daniel, 38, says: “I watched the report and thought, Manchester? Montana House? I knew I’d called for a taxi from there the morning after I’d blacked out. I felt that same sense of dread.
“I called the police and they arranged to visit me. As soon as the detective waked in, I could see she recognised me. She looked like she was going to cry. So I welled up before she even told me.”
Daniel’s fears were confirmed when he identified his tattoos in stills taken from Sinaga’s depraved film footage. “I looked comatose. I looked dead. To see myself so vulnerable, it was horrible.”
Officers gently told Daniel what Sinaga did to him, but it was brutal enough for him to decline to watch the video of his attack.
His was one of hundreds of videos and photos, the equivalent of 250 DVDs, full of Sinaga’s violations. He raped one man eight times.
His reign of terror ended in June 2017 only when a teenage rugby player woke from heavy sedation to find naked Sinaga on top of him.
He fought Sinaga before calling the police to tell them he’d “had to hit him a few times to stop him from attacking me”.
Police arrested the teen on suspicion of assault. But when questioning Sinaga in hospital, they obtained his iPhone 4. On it, and other devices found at his flat, was evidence of sexual assaults on up to 195 victims spanning over two years.
Daniel tells his story in a hard-hitting BBC documentary called Catching a Predator, which also reveals the mugshots of the battered and bruised face of Sinaga when he was arrested.
On watching the preview, Daniel heard Sinaga’s voice for the first time.
“I don’t have any memory of meeting him, just of being down the lane. So to hear his voice, to see him talking, creeped me out.
“But I would like to shake the hand of the man who woke up and found himself with him. When he spoke to the police and said he’d given Sinaga a hiding, I felt so bad for him. But if it wasn’t for him, none of us would know what happened to us and he’d still be doing what he did.”
Slightly-built, softly-spoken Sinaga, 38, was a student from a wealthy Indonesian family who lured men to his home with the promise of a drink, charging their phone or a warm place to eat their takeaways. He spiked their drinks to make them pass out before abusing them.
Police believe many victims have not reported their attacks. Bravely, Daniel has waived his anonymity to try to encourage more men to seek the support they need.
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He says: “To say as a man, ‘I’ve been raped’ is hard. It’s a hard thing. There’s just an element of shame in it. As a man I should be strong, you know? It makes you feel so vulnerable.
“But the more I learned about the stigma and the fact so many male rapes go unreported, I thought that doesn’t make sense. If there’s a message to be put out there, I want to be a part of it.
“Some people, when they heard I would be doing an interview, said, ‘you’re not going to show your face, are you?’. And I said, well that’s the whole point. I’m not ashamed of myself.
“I have to try my hardest to make something good come out of this.”
Daniel’s selfless nature is evident in everything from his job as a carer for autistic adults to the fact he moved from Manchester to Hastings to help look after his parents.
His first thought that bleak morning in Sinaga’s flat was not for himself, but for his boyfriend of eight years.
“As soon as I phoned my fella he said, ‘How did you disappear from that alleyway? I was waiting for you. I’ve been up all night looking for you and calling hospitals’.
“He suspected I’d been with someone else, but even though I’d drunk a lot I knew I’d never do that because I was in love and loyal. He’d been my best friend. But I couldn’t give him answers because my memory was blank and I felt so groggy.
“He became understanding when he believed something had happened to me. But our relationship came under serious strain after that and it was one of the reasons we broke up.”
In Sinaga’s January 2020 trial, the biggest rape case in British history, his defence claimed the men in the footage were silent and still to play along with his sexual fantasies. It was dismissed as “preposterous”. Prosecutors said his crimes were as savage as a gothic horror story.
Sinagra was convicted of 159 sexual offences against 48 men, including 136 rapes. Since then, 26 more victims have been identified. Police believe another 60 have yet to come forward.
His minimum jail term was extended from 30 to 40 years at the High Court. Judge Suzanne Goddard QC branded him “evil” and a “monster”.
Daniel was asked if he would like his day in court. He says: “My first question was: will he do any more time?
“They said probably not, so I said no. I don’t want to sit there and hear him say that I was asleep or laugh like I heard he’d done while some of the charges were read. That would mess with me more. But if I thought it would have given him another day inside, I would have.
“It’s a comfort to know he got 40 years because I feel, if he got out, he’d still be a monster. I’ve heard Wakefield is a bit of a nasty prison. But I still feel real anger.
“I was brought up to forgive everyone and have always been able to find the forgiveness within me. But I’m reaching. I don’t think he needs or deserves forgiveness from me.”
Daniel is grateful for the counselling he’s had from St Mary’s Centre in Manchester and his sensitive dealings with detectives. He is surrounded by a tight circle of friends, family and his partner of five years. And he confided in his parents early on.
“My relationship with my dad has become something it never was before. He never really struggled with me being gay but it wasn’t a talked-about subject. Dad’s an east ender with seven sons, so was a bit of a lad. But he turned out to be a real shoulder to cry on. He supports me speaking out abut male rape if it gets an important message across. I definitely have a new relationship with him now and I love it.
“I was always a mummy’s boy but I talk to my mum less about it. I think that’s because I know it broke her heart and she’s hurting.”
The psychological scars may be buried beneath Daniel’s extrovert, kind and sunny nature. But they are deep and painful.
He says: “There are little bits of depression and times when I think, ‘why me?’ But you just have to keep trying, don’t you?
“You do blame yourself a bit, you just do. And I know I shouldn’t and I would tell someone else, ‘you mustn’t’. But if I am honest, a slight thought says, ‘if you hadn’t been so stupid’.
“But I tell myself I was lucky. Lucky I wasn’t murdered. I’m sure other people have more wounds than me because of it. I know a lot of the victims were straight which I think makes it different, even though it shouldn’t. I can’t imagine if it happened to my brother and he’d have to tell his wife and children.
“So even though nothing will ever be the same, I am happy in my little life with my friends and family around me. I know I’m in the right place at the right time.
“Speaking out has helped me and will hopefully someone else. And if it does, then that will bring me a little bit of private happiness.”
- Catching a Predator is on Wednesday, October 6 at 9pm on BBC Two.