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Last Updated: Friday, 26 May 2006, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
DNA snares rapist after 16 years
Yonis Dirie
Dirie had been allowed to stay in the UK despite convictions
DNA evidence has led to a 10-year jail term for a man who raped and beat a young woman in east London in 1990, then tried to dump her in a river.

Detectives from the Met's cold case unit traced Yonis Dirie, 40, last year.

He and another man, who is still at large, both raped the 21-year-old and left her with severe facial injuries.

Somalia-born Dirie, of West Kensington, was given indefinite leave to remain in the UK in 1994, although he had committed a string of other offences.

His victim, originally from north-east England - who cannot be named for legal reasons - said she was "delighted" at the sentence.

"It was a good result, and the judge was really great. Now I feel I can get on with life," she told BBC News.

I want him to see I'm still here - I didn't lie down and die like he wanted me to

The Old Bailey heard that between committing the rape in 1990 and being given permission to stay in Britain, Dirie was convicted of burglary, possessing an offensive weapon and attempted robbery.

After 1994 he went on to commit thefts, and was given a community rehabilitation order for carrying a knife.

The Home Office said it could not comment on individual cases, but said people who are given sanctuary in the UK are in a "privileged position" and should not abuse the country's hospitality.

"Anyone breaking the law, irrespective of their immigration status, can expect prosecution and, where appropriate, a custodial sentence and deportation," said a spokesman.

Sentencing Dirie, and referring to his accomplice in the rape, Judge Gerald Gordon said: "You remained undetected for many years and only recent improvements in DNA science have at last brought one of you to justice.

"At the time of this offence you had exceptional leave to remain [in Britain] - a humanitarian gesture that you grossly abused that night."

He said the victim's experience must have been "unimaginably awful".


Police said it was a "miracle" she survived by landing on a ledge when the men tried to throw her in the water.

She was accosted by the pair as she got off a night bus at the wrong stop, in Stratford, East London.

They offered to help her get home by taking her to a different stop, but led her to a bridge by the river and assaulted and raped her.

The men threw her over a wall towards the river while she was semi-conscious, then ran off, but she landed on a concrete ledge and managed to escape and get help.

Last year the cold case unit, which is investigating unsolved stranger rapes between1987 and 1995, reviewed the case.

Ledge the woman landed on
The woman landed on a ledge after being thrown over the wall

A new DNA profile was loaded onto the national database and Dirie was identified.

He was arrested in September and charged with rape and attempted murder.

He pleaded guilty to rape earlier this month and prosecutors decided no to pursue the attempted murder charge.

Detective Constable Andy Lawrence said it was a "shocking and violent attack".

"After physically and sexually assaulting her the suspects had every intention of drowning her in a nearby river. It's a miracle that the victim landed on a small ledge and was able to report this horrendous attack.

"This case proves that the Met will always pursue violent offenders and seek justice for the victims who suffer at their hands," he said.

He added officers were still trying to trace the second man, and hoped Dirie would "find it in himself" to assist in the search.

Man jailed for 1991 rape attack
25 May 06 |  London
DNA advances catch 1989 rapist
10 Jan 06 |  West Yorkshire
Met to re-open 1,500 rape cases
05 Feb 03 |  England


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