Northampton

Northampton rape case: Man guilty of attacking widow in 1986

Donovan Vernon Image copyright Northamptonshire Police
Image caption Donovan Vernon, 50, was arrested after a review of DNA evidence linked him to the attack in Northampton in 1986

A man has been found guilty of raping a 68-year-old woman at knifepoint, 32 years after the crime took place.

Donovan Vernon, 50, was arrested after a review of DNA evidence linked him to the attack in Northampton on 11 October 1986.

Vernon, who was 18, wore a ski-mask and leather gloves when he raped the widow, who died in 1995 aged 76.

Vernon, who was in the Royal Anglian Regiment, will be sentenced later at Northampton Crown Court.

The jury heard that he was a career criminal and is currently serving an 18-year sentence for armed robbery.

'Dangerousness' test

Judge Adrienne Lucking QC said his other convictions involved "serious violence", including against women.

She ordered the Probation Service to carry out a "dangerousness assessment" on Vernon before she passes sentence.

As part of a region-wide operation called Artemis, Northamptonshire Police is reviewing DNA samples linked to unsolved rapes.

Vernon was charged with aggravated burglary and rape after Northamptonshire Police ran DNA analysis on samples taken from the victim's nightgown and bedlinen.

Vernon had denied the charges and said his DNA was in the victim's bed because he had been in a relationship with her and they had sex together.

However, the jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts.