A MAN who raped a teenage girl more than 30 years ago has been jailed after a DNA match led to his arrest.

Paul Shakespeare raped the 18-year-old girl who had been walking her dog along the Honeybourne line in in Cheltenham on a late Sunday afternoon in April 1990.

Shakespeare, aged 66 and of Scaleby Close, Upperby in Carlisle was sentenced at a hearing at Gloucester Crown Court yesterday to nine years in prison. 

A statement from the victim was read to the court in which she described how what happened that day has had a "detrimental effect" on her life.

She added: "Being raped will haunt me for the rest of my life. On that day I was the most scared I had ever been."

The court was told in the statement that when police officers knocked on the victim's door to tell her there was a suspect, that "I knew that day would come that they would tell me this news".

The victim had been walking along a public footpath on 29 April 1990 when she was approached by Shakespeare, who was a stranger to her. He was carrying a wooden stick which was sharpened into a point and had a nail protruding from one end.

Shakespeare then raped the victim in some nearby undergrowth and threatened her to not tell anyone what he did before he ran away from the scene.

The court was told by Virginia Cornwall, prosecuting, that this was a "premeditated stranger rape" and that witnesses had seen Shakespeare staring at girls and women throughout the day, that his behaviour was odd and he was acting suspiciously.

A full DNA profile was recovered at the time of the incident, but following numerous attempts over the years to identify the suspect there was no DNA match.

However, in June last year Shakespeare was arrested out of county for being in possession of a knife and his DNA was taken and added to a national database.

This later led to a forensic match to the 1990 rape and Shakespeare was arrested on 15 August last year and subsequently charged with the offences.

At a court hearing on 18 November last year he admitted one count of rape and one count of possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.

Judge Michael Cullum addressed Shakespeare and said: "I'm so relieved that this day has finally come for (the victim). For 30 years she has been denied justice and living daily with the nightmare that you inflicted on her.

"That nightmare of course does not end with sentence. She knew that this day would come and her remarkable faith in the criminal justice system has been borne out."

He added that when Shakespeare claimed in statements in police interviews that the rape was consensual, was "the ultimate in victim blaming" and that this had been a "predatory rape".

Shakespeare, who appeared in court via video-link, was told he will serve two thirds of the sentence before being released on licence. He will also be on the Sex Offender Register for life.

The court was told he was of previous good character, had not committed any other serious offences and feels remorse and shame for his actions.

The victim was in court to hear the sentencing, along with several of the officers who investigated the case over the past 30 years.

The case had previously been reopened by Gloucestershire Constabulary in 2007 with renewed appeals for information, including on national television in 2008.

Following today's hearing, the victim said: "I would like to take this opportunity to thank and praise Gloucestershire Constabulary for their efforts in securing this conviction on my behalf and for handling my case with such professionalism at all times.

"On the actual day of the assault, the police were quick to act with the situation and have throughout the years reassured me of their continued efforts, which has not gone amiss.

"Gloucestershire Constabulary remained respectful of my wishes throughout the investigation and I feel it important to mention that I was never forgotten and it was taken with utmost seriousness at all times, as well as the support I received which has been commendable."

Officer in the case, Detective Constable Simone Bowley said: "This was a deeply horrifying incident which happened to a teenage girl who was walking her dog on a late Sunday afternoon.

"We heard details in court today of how scared she was that day, fearing for her life, and the significant damage, trauma and pain this has caused her in the years which have followed.

"That young woman was immensely courageous, and her bravery since then has not wavered. She has had to wait for more than 30 years to hear Shakespeare admit his abhorrent crimes and watch him get jailed.

"From day one she worked with police, and she continued to work with us when the case was reopened and reviewed over this time, in the hope that one day he would be caught.

"I am pleased for her that this day has come and I truly hope she can now get the closure which she has deserved for all of these years.

"In Gloucestershire we have a dedicated Rape and Serious Sexual Offences team and I would urge anyone who has been the victim of a sexual assault, whether recent or non-recent, to please contact police or other support agencies and report it."

Mike Wilson, aged 74, was the officer who led the initial investigation in 1990. At that time he was a Detective Sergeant with the local CID based at Cheltenham.

Following today's sentence, he said: "I've been involved in lots of investigations during my 31 years in the police service, but this horrendous crime always stayed in the back of my mind and never went away.

"When I met the victim on that day she was distraught, it was heart-rending to see.

"The initial investigation involved many teams, including forensics, and we were given all the help we needed to try and find who was responsible.

"We had the DNA but, with no match, what we were looking for was a name, for someone to contact us and put his name forward. Despite the crucial help from the media and a huge amount of publicity, which resulted in more than 60 witness statements being taken, that day never came and a name wasn't put forward.

"Eventually we had no further lines of inquiry, but the work didn't stop there and the case was often revisited over the years and later went to the cold case team.

"Being told that there was finally a DNA match more than 30 years later was great news.

"I hope that the courageous victim will find some closure in seeing the man responsible for this abhorrent crime behind bars, where he has deserved to be ever since that horrific day back in 1990.

"The message here is that we will never give up, there is always a glimmer of hope for victims, and that people who commit such heinous crimes will continue to be sought until they are caught.

"Finally, I would like to highlight the level of police team work which has gone on over the years and thank those who have contributed to the investigation. A vast amount of hard work went into creating the original case file, which has been picked up and developed over the years, and can now finally be closed."

If you have experienced rape, sexual assault or abuse, and wish to report the crime, contact police by calling 101 or 999 in the case of an emergency.

Gloucestershire Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre support women dealing with the effects of rape and sexual abuse. For more information visit their website www.glosrasac.org/