Man jailed for eight years for 1987 rape

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The Independent Online

A handyman who raped a woman in her own home 23 years ago was finally jailed for eight years today after he was caught thanks to the DNA database.

Dennis Fitzgerald walked into the woman's home as she slept in November 1987. She was blindfolded, bound and gagged before he raped her twice, Dorset Police said.

Today, the 53-year-old was jailed for eight years at Bournemouth Crown Court. The sentence came after he admitted last month to raping the woman from Poole, Dorset, whom he did not even know.

Dorset Police said Fitzgerald was arrested thanks to the DNA database.

Although they were never able to prosecute anybody for the rape at the time, police took samples from the scene of the attack.

In 2004, officers re-examined the case and a full DNA profile was created from the samples thanks to advancements in technology.

The profile did not provide an immediate match and it remained on the database until October last year when Fitzgerald was arrested for a separate incident by Nottinghamshire Police.

Officers raided his home and found documents which revealed he was completing a course at the army camp in Bovington, Dorset, at the time of the attack.

He then provided a new sample and it matched the profile on the database.

Today the victim, now in her early 40s, said: "I had a knock on the door in November from Dorset Police, basically telling me that after all this time they had got him.

"It was a bit of a shock and something I never had imagined would happen, but it was just fantastic.

"This guy would have never been caught on a description because I was tied up and blindfolded and I would have never been able to describe him.

"It's just fantastic to know that he hasn't got away with it, there's no mistaken identity, this was definitely him."

The woman added: "Being woken up in the middle of the night by a complete stranger, I actually couldn't believe I lived through it. I thought that at that moment when I realised what was happening I was going to die.

"Seeing him in court for the first time was pretty traumatic but it was something I needed to do, I needed to put a face to this monster.

"I didn't realise how good it would feel to know that this man is off the streets and to be able to walk down the street in 23 years without thinking that every man was the man who did it."

Detective Chief Inspector Kevin Connolly, from Dorset Police, said: "The victim has been extremely brave in this particularly nasty case.

"She has coped with it very well and I just hope that this outcome provides her with an opportunity to finally put this ordeal behind her.

"This case just goes to prove that we will pursue every line of enquiry to bring offenders to justice and thanks to the advances in forensic technology, there's even more chance that offenders will be caught."