IT WAS advances in DNA profiling that held the key to bringing Robert Gordon to justice more than 30 years after he raped a stranger in a Basingstoke park.

Although the victim immediately reported the rape, was medically examined and gave a statement to the police, a lack of eyewitnesses and clues meant Gordon escaped justice for more than three decades.

He was finally tracked down thanks to the creation of ‘Operation Galaxy’ in 2010 by Hampshire Constabulary – a small team created to review the forensic potential of all historic undetected sexual assaults from 1980 onwards.

One of the cases chosen for review was that of the victim raped in War Memorial Park.

The rape trial heard from former Detective Inspector Julian Venner, who was involved in the investigation.

He said the team had relied on the forensic science service to provide evidence from this case and many other so-called ‘cold cases’.

Mr Venner said: “What we were told by the forensic science service was that they had copies of the original samples and, unusually, a copy of the victim’s handwritten statement. They also returned a number of exhibits from the original case.”

A partial male DNA profile was obtained by forensic scientists from the original samples, and when the profile was searched on the DNA database, first for Hampshire and then nationally, only one result was found – that of Gordon, a convicted rapist who lived close to the park.

Although the DNA evidence had deteriorated over time, the court heard the chance of the DNA not coming from Gordon was one in 230,000.

Experts for the prosecution and defence agreed there are probably fewer than 100 men in the UK with the same partial DNA profile who could have committed the offence.

Police officers also contacted The Gazette, which was able provide a copy of an article which it ran a few days after the offence, appealing for witnesses and giving details of the attack.

Importantly, The Gazette article also contained the original photofit of the suspect, which had been destroyed by police, and this was shown to the jury as part of the trial.