Page last updated at 14:13 GMT, Friday, 19 March 2010

Man jailed for rape of woman in Poole 23 years ago

Dennis Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald was arrested for an unconnected matter last year

A man who raped a young woman in her Dorset home nearly 23 years ago has been jailed for eight years after being caught through DNA evidence.

The woman, now in her 40s, was awoken by a stranger who had got into her home in Poole in November 1987.

Dennis Fitzgerald, of Nottingham, threatened, bound and gagged her then raped her twice before leaving.

The 53-year-old pleaded guilty to rape on 23 February at Bournemouth Crown Court and was sentenced on Friday.

The court heard that Fitzgerald was linked to the rape after Nottingham Police arrested him for an "unconnected matter" following intelligence received from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre in October 2009.

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
Victim

Fitzgerald, a handyman, provided a DNA sample, which was found to match that of the sample taken from the crime scene back in 1987.

Officers also searched his house and found documentation indicating he had been doing a course at the Army camp in Bovington, near Poole, at the time of the attack.

The victim said: "This guy would never have been caught on a description because I was tied up and blindfolded and I would never have 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."

"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.

'Extremely brave'

"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."

The victim said she had had great support from both police and the Crown Prosecution Service throughout the investigation and trial and urged other victims to report rapes.

"There's other people out there that have been through this that may not have reported it," she said.

"Please come forward, these people can be caught thanks to DNA technology. There is no element of doubt and don't let these people do it to anybody else."

Det Ch Insp Kevin Connolly said: "The victim has been extremely brave in this particularly nasty case.

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



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