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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 November 2006, 16:09 GMT
Man convicted of 1980 rape case
Thomas Ian Stewart in 1980
Stewart was jailed for murder in Reading in 1993
A 56-year old man has been found guilty of the rape of a medical student more than 26 years ago.

Thomas Ian Stewart, originally from Weston-super-Mare, was arrested in 2005 after an investigation by Avon and Somerset Constabulary's Cold Case Team.

The incident happened in June 1980 when the victim, a 21-year- old medical student, was walking home after a night out in Cotham, Bristol.

Stewart was jailed for 10 years at Bristol Crown Court on Wednesday.

After the verdict, the jury was told Stewart had been convicted of murder in 1993.

He was given a life sentence at Reading Crown Court for stabbing a stranger to death at the town's railway station.

I regard the risk you posed as real and continuing
Judge Carol Hagen

Stewart was released in July 2005, and arrested a month later for rape.

Jailing Stewart, of Southcote Road, Reading, for the rape offence, Judge Carol Hagen said the attack had had a "quite devastating" effect on the victim.

"The degree of harm done in terms of psychological damage is immense," she said.

"I regard the risk you posed as real and continuing."

Stewart has been recalled to prison to continue serving his life sentence, as well as the jail term imposed on Wednesday.

The attacked woman had been walking home alone when Stewart grabbed her from behind and put a knife to her throat.

She said: "I was 20-years-old at the time of the rape. I was only just discovering who I was.

"Since that moment I have never engaged in anything, I have had no pleasure and no hope.

"I continue to live just because that is what I must do."

A photo-fit of the attacker
A photo-fit of the attacker released in 1980

Despite a major police investigation at the time of the rape, including 300 witness statements, no conviction was secured.

The case then came up during a review in 2003 of all unsolved sex offences and evidence loaded on to the National DNA Database produced the match against Stewart.

He was arrested from his home address in Reading.

Det Sgt Mike Britton said: "We wanted to ensure when we arrested Stewart we had secured all of the necessary evidence to charge him."


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