Alleged sex attacker tracked down by DNA, court hears

A MASKED sex attacker accused of raping a teenage girl at knife-point in an Ipswich park nearly 20 years ago was tracked down by police following advances in DNA testing, it has been claimed.

Jane Hunt

A MASKED sex attacker accused of raping a teenage girl at knife-point in an Ipswich park nearly 20 years ago was tracked down by police following advances in DNA testing, it has been claimed.

Police officers carrying out a “cold case” review of the terrifying attack on a 17-year-old girl in Gippeswyk Park in January 1990 arrested 50-year-old Phil Collins last year after his DNA was found on her underwear, Ipswich Crown Court was told.

Prosecutor Steven Spence said DNA found on the victim's bra and knickers “precisely” matched that of Collins' and the chances of it coming from someone else were one in a billion.

Collins, who had been living in Heatherhayes, Ipswich, was one of a number of people questioned by police at the time of the alleged rape but had denied any knowledge of the attack and claimed to have an alibi.

Mr Spence said the science of DNA at that time had been in its infancy and was not nearly as sophisticated as it is today and the police inquiry had drawn a blank.

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However, samples taken at the time of the rape were kept in secure storage at forensic laboratories and the case was reinvestigated following advances in technology which enabled the samples to be subjected to more sensitive analysis.

Collins, of Dickens Road, Ipswich, has denied a charge of rape along with two charges each of indecent assault and buggery on the woman on January 14, 1990.

Mr Spence told the court that on the evening in question the woman had been feeling “fed up and depressed” and had left her home in the Whitehouse area of Ipswich at around 7pm to visit a friend in Waterloo Road.

Finding that her friend was out, the woman decided to walk to Gippeswyk Park and had arrived there at approximately between 8pm and 8.30pm.

After entering the park through the Gippeswyk Road entrance she had followed a footpath near the railway line and was near some huts when she saw someone “lurking” in the shadows, said Mr Spence.

As she walked past the figure had emerged and the woman saw he was wearing a black stocking over his head and was armed with a kitchen knife.

The man put a hand over the woman's mouth to stop her screaming and had held the knife in front of her while pulling her to the rear of the huts.

There he ordered her to strip naked before allegedly raping her and sexually assaulting her in a number of other ways.

At the end of her ordeal the woman was ordered not to look up and was warned that she would be “damaged” if she didn't stay where she was.

She had eventually got dressed and fled from the park and had telephoned the police from a telephone box in Bramford Road at 9pm.

“She was in pain, traumatised, fearful and petrified,” said Mr Spence.

The woman was medically examined and was found to have injuries consistent with her being sexually assaulted.

Mr Spence said that after Collins, who has a heart condition, was arrested last year he declined to answer questions put to him by police officers but in a prepared statement said he couldn't remember what had happened in 1990.

The trial, which is expected to last two weeks, continues today (Tues).