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Last Updated: Friday, 10 November 2006, 13:56 GMT
Rapist trapped by 14-year-old DNA
James Marshall
Marshall has previous convictions for rape and assault
A man who raped a pregnant woman 14 years ago has been jailed for 18 years after police found his DNA in a saliva sample provided at the time.

James Marshall, 36, from Oldham, raped the woman at knifepoint in May 1992 as she walked to a fair in Bury, Greater Manchester, to meet her family.

He pleaded guilty in September at Manchester Crown Court to rape, robbery and indecent assault.

The crime remained unsolved until 2005 when police re-examined evidence.

The court was told Marshall confronted the woman, who was 27 at the time, on a footpath and dragged her into some scrubland.

Despite her repeated pleas that she was two months pregnant, he raped her.

I have found it difficult to get on with life knowing that the man responsible was still out there

Judge Clement Goldstone QC, sentencing, said: "It was for her the most terrifying and humiliating experience, which brought untold difficulties and distress to her everyday life.

"Only now since your arrest and plea of guilty can she even try to put this behind her."

The judge said Marshall had "scared" and "degraded" the woman and could be shown no leniency.

"There is, in my opinion, a substantial risk of you committing violent and sexual offences in the future."

The court heard Marshall had previous convictions for rape, aggravated burglary and assault.

He was jailed for six years in 1987 for the violent rape of a young girl, who was dragged out of bed at knifepoint.

Marshall attacked the youngster in a churchyard near her home before taking her back to the house and burgling it.

Fingerprint clue

In his 1992 attack, Marshall pounced on his pregnant victim as she walked across fields off Marsden Street in Bury.

She managed to escape from him while he was looking through her handbag for valuables. Marshall stole 17.

The victim was taken to Bury General Hospital for treatment to cuts and bruises after the attack and a saliva sample was taken from her.

A DNA profile was compiled but in 1992 it was only possible then to compare profiles to a named offender, Greater Manchester Police said.

When it was searched against the national DNA database in 2005, Marshall's name came up.

Detectives from Greater Manchester Police also linked Marshall to two partial fingerprints found on a cigarette packet discarded at the scene of the rape.

DNA breakthrough

In a statement, Marshall's victim said: "This attack devastated me completely at the time and I have found it difficult to get on with life knowing that the man responsible was still out there.

"I am pleased that the case was re-investigated and know that, 14 years on, it will help me to know that Marshall is in prison, where he cannot do this to anyone else."

Det Insp Jeff Arnold, head of GMP's Cold Case Review Unit, said advances in DNA technology had allowed them to track down Marshall.

"In all likelihood, he probably believed that, with such a long period of time elapsing since the rape, he would never be caught.

"But samples of DNA are never discarded and with funding from the Home Office under Operation Advance, it is becoming possible to bring more and more offenders to justice long after they committed the offence."

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