Man Jailed For 1988 Canterbury Rape

14 April 2011, 14:23 | Updated: 14 April 2011, 14:27

58 year old James John Robertson, from Lancashire has been sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of the rape of a 20 year old woman in Canterbury on 20 August 1988.

A jury of seven men and five women took 5½ hours to find Robertson guilty.

Detective Inspector David Withers said: 'The young woman went through a terrible ordeal 22 years ago. Supported by her family, she has bravely re-lived that ordeal by giving evidence before a jury over two days.

'We have worked closely with the Forensic Science Service (FSS) and the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that this man was brought before the courts to face the consequences of his actions.'

Robertson of Spring Street, Rishton, Lancashire, was charged with rape and indecent assault following a re-examination of DNA samples taken from the victim in 1988. With the help of the latest scientific techniques, DNA matched those of Robertson in a ratio of 1 billion:1.

A jury heard how the young woman had been out with friends in Canterbury City Centre on the night of 19 August 1988. Robertson approached her later in the evening as she had an argument with a friend. He offered her a lift home but instead of taking an agreed route, he drove out of the city to rural locations near to Littlebourne and then Nackington Road, where, for over two hours, he assaulted and raped her before leaving her in the town centre.

The victim reported the assault and police began their investigations but no one was charged. The Cold Case Investigation team from Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate reinvestigated the incident and charged Robertson with rape, actual bodily harm and indecent assault in March 2010.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges at Canterbury Crown Court and following a trial lasting thirteen days was found guilty on Wednesday 13 April. He was sentenced this morning (14/4/11) to life imprisonment, and must serve a minimum term of seven and a half years.

Robertson's DNA matched DNA already on the database after he was convicted of grievous bodily harm in 2002. He was released in 2006 and lived in the North West until his arrest in 2010.

The court also heard how he had also previously been convicted of murder in Scotland and assaulting a police officer in 1971. He was released in 1982.

Upon sentencing Judge Adele Williams said: You are a depraved and dangerous man. You acted in a cold and calculated manner. You have perverted tendencies and you have shown no remorse. You will remain in prison until it is considered you no longer remain a danger to women.'

Judge Williams commended the work of the Cold Case Team from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate.
Sally Hill, a senior Cold Case Scientist from the Forensic Science Service said: 'Advances in DNA pioneered by the FSS enabled us to go back and look again at the evidence in this case.
'We are very pleased that we have been able to assist Kent by providing them with a new lead which ultimately resulted in the successful conviction of James Robertson.
'The FSS has retained materials from decades ago which have enabled forces from around to country to achieve more than 230 cold case convictions and finally bring closure to victims.'

The victim has said she is overjoyed that Robertson has been found guility. She is relieved that he has been identified and is facing a substantial time in prison.