DNA evidence helps jail 1994 rapist John Townsend

Leicester Crown Court Image copyright Google
Image caption John Townsend was jailed for 15 years at Leicester Crown Court after DNA evidence helped to convict him

A man who raped a woman at gunpoint in the 1990s has been jailed for 15 years after DNA evidence taken nearly two decades later was used to identify him.

John Townsend, from Leicester, attacked a sex worker in a remote car park on the outskirts of the city in 1994.

The 45-year-old was only caught when a DNA sample he provided in 2013 matched evidence taken at the time.

Townsend, of Cornwall Road, also received a 10-year jail term for indecent assault, to run concurrently.

The Crown Prosecution Service said Townsend targeted his victim on the streets of Leicester, agreed a price for sex and took her to the car park.

There, he produced a handgun and raped her, forcing her to walk away from the car when the attack was over so he could drive away and abandon her.

The victim then sought refuge at a nearby garage and called the police.

He left traces of his DNA in the attack but the use of DNA in police investigations was not well established in 1994, the CPS said.

'Terrifying ordeal'

About 20 years later, he was required to give a DNA sample and it matched the profile previously taken.

The victim was then able to recount what had happened to her all those years ago.

Townsend was charged with rape and indecent assault and was tried and convicted at Leicester Crown Court in December.

Lawrence English, from CPS East Midlands rape and serious sexual offences team, said: "This case demonstrates the value of securing evidence at the time of the offence, from witness accounts to DNA forensics.

"Although there was nothing that could be achieved with the samples at the time, modern scientific advances meant that when a sample was taken from Townsend, it identified him as the rapist.

"Townsend subjected his victim to a terrifying ordeal. It cannot have been easy for her to have revisited the events of that night and part of her past life, but she has given clear, compelling evidence that has brought Townsend to justice."

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