Cold case review sees rapist jailed after 25 years

Graham David Wood Photo: Sussex Police

A man has been sentenced for the rape of a woman in Eastbourne 25 years ago, after a Sussex Police cold case review.

Graham Wood, 48, of Frinton Close, Rushden, Northamptonshire, was sentenced to five years at Lewes Crown Court today, having pleaded guilty to raping and indecently assaulting a 20-year old woman in an alley at The Goffs, near the town centre in Eastbourne, on the evening of Thursday 2 April 1987.

Judge Richard Brown praised officers for their determined efforts to reinvestigate and solve these cold cases.

He sentenced Wood to five years taking into account the 10 year sentence he had been given for previous offences in 1988.

The rape was reported to police on the night it took place and was the subject of media publicity at the time. Sussex Police recently decided to review and then re-open the case in the light of recent forensic advances, including in the field of DNA.

Wood was arrested at his home on July 19 last year following a detailed review and investigation of forensic and other evidence, and was subsequently released on police bail. He was charged in September last year.

The victim was walking home alone late on the evening of April 2nd, 1987, when she was attacked by Wood, a complete stranger, who forced her into a driveway off the road, threatened her, and raped her before running off.

He was subsequently convicted of a similar rape in Eastbourne late on the evening of March 27th, 1988, when a local woman walking her dog was attacked.

Police arrested him, and he was sentenced to a total of ten years imprisonment, having admitted that offence, two offences of assault with intent to rob, and one of robbery.

Det Ch Insp Nick Sloan said: "The success of re-investigations like this is a tribute to the dedicated and professional work of our Crime Review Branch and many current and previous colleagues in the force, working with the CPS and our specialist forensic suppliers.

"This often unseen but crucial and painstaking effort can extend over months and years, but we have a duty to victims, and the wider public, to pursue all avenues of enquiry to help seek justice for them.

"We will always take every opportunity to follow up allegations of serious and violent crime, however long ago they occurred, to offer support to those affected and to see if there is evidence which can be put before the courts."