A 39-year-old man was jailed for 13 years today for beating and raping a mother in her home in a "prolonged and merciless" attack 20 years ago.
Kevin Walters, of Hurricane Road, Wallington, Surrey, repeatedly hit the woman so hard with a wooden stick she feared she would die, London's Southwark Crown Court heard.
He was arrested in April after avoiding capture for two decades.
Scientific advances in matching DNA identified Walters as the attacker and in June he pleaded guilty to rape and wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC said: "This was a terrible incident which began with a prolonged and violent - and in my mind merciless - attack.
"It was an episode of appalling brutality."
He added: "There is no doubt at all that this terrible incident has lived with her down the years to the degree that I think it can fairly be said it ruined her life and was bound to have had a serious impact on the family."
The victim, who was 41 at the time, was about to collect her six-year-old daughter from school when she went upstairs to close the window on the afternoon of March 27, 1990 but was "shocked and extremely frightened" to discover a man in the bedroom.
She fled down the stairs but he hit her with a stick and she fell to the floor.
Without saying a word, Walters inflicted numerous blows to her head and upper body as the woman desperately tried to protect her bleeding head.
Peter Glenser, prosecuting, said: "She thought she was going to be murdered. She begged him repeatedly 'please don't kill me'."
As he lay on top of her, Walters told her "you have to have me now" and raped her before ripping the telephone out of the socket and fleeing.
The woman, half-naked and bleeding heavily, managed to escape to a neighbour's house where the alarm was raised.
She spent three days in hospital with extensive bruising and lacerations and received 21 stitches to the head.
While the case remained unsolved, the victim attempted to return to normal life but she struggled with her fears about being at home on her own and suffered debilitating headaches.
In a statement read to the court, she described how the shock of seeing the man in the bedroom made her scream and she said she was "terrified".
"I thought I was going to die," she said. "I remember thinking one more blow to my head and I am dead."
She said she suffered constant headaches and felt safer walking in the streets than in her house but over the years had tried "blanking" it out.
The fears gradually subsided, she said, until the police reopened the case last year and she felt terrified again.
But with the the help of her family she was able to help the police, she added.
Walters wept and held his head in his hands in court during the hearing.
His counsel George Zachary read a statement written by Walters apologising and saying he had carried the "burden of guilt" for the last 20 years.
"I am and always will be exceedingly remorseful," he said. "I still cannot fully understand why I hit my self-destruct button 20 years ago as a young man of 19."Reuse content