Billion-to-1 DNA link snares rapist

A rapist caught by a one-in-a-billion DNA match more than 20 years after he attacked a young woman was jailed for life today.

James John Robertson, 58, assaulted and raped the 20-year-old after she accepted a lift from him following an argument she had with a friend in 1988.

The crime laid unsolved until cold case detectives re-examined samples taken from the victim following advances in scientific techniques.

The samples provided a link with Robertson who was on the DNA database after he was convicted of grievous bodily harm years after the rape.

Robertson, of Spring Street, Rishton, Lancashire, went on trial at Canterbury Crown Court after pleading not guilty to rape, actual bodily harm and indecent assault.

During the 13-day trial, jurors heard how the victim had been out with friends in Canterbury city centre in Kent on August 19, 1988 when Robertson approached her as she rowed with a friend.

He offered her a lift home but instead of taking an agreed route, he drove out of the city to rural spots where, for more than two hours, he assaulted and raped her.

A jury took five-and-a-half hours to convict Robertson yesterday and today he was jailed for life, Kent Police said.

A judge said he will serve at least seven-and-a-half years behind bars before being eligible for parole.

Sentencing him, Judge Adele Williams told him: "You are a depraved and dangerous man. You acted in a cold and calculated manner.

"You have perverted tendencies and you have shown no remorse. You will remain in prison until it is considered you no longer remain a danger to women."

Police said Robertson had also been convicted of murder in Scotland and assaulting a police officer in 1971. He was freed in 1982.

Following the case, Detective Inspector David Withers, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: "We have worked closely with the Forensic Science Service (FSS) and the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that this man was brought before the courts to face the consequences of his actions."

Sally Hill, a senior cold case scientist from the FSS, said: "Advances in DNA pioneered by the FSS enabled us to go back and look again at the evidence in this case.

"We are very pleased that we have been able to assist Kent by providing them with a new lead which ultimately resulted in the successful conviction of James Robertson.

"The FSS has retained materials from decades ago which have enabled forces from around the country to achieve more than 230 cold case convictions and finally bring closure to victims."

Kent Police said the victim is "overjoyed" that Robertson has been found guilty.

A spokesman said: "She is relieved that he has been identified and is facing a substantial time in prison."