BREAKING NEWS: Ex-soldier could get life for raping 68-year-old Northampton widow in 1986

Donovan Vernon has been found guilty of raping an elderly woman in 1986.
Donovan Vernon has been found guilty of raping an elderly woman in 1986.

A man accused of breaking into a Northampton widow's home in 1986 and raping her has been found guilty following a unanimous verdict.

Donovan Vernon did not flinch as the 12-member jury read out the guilty verdict at Northampton Crown Court this afternoon.

On the night of October 11, 1986, the former serviceman broke into a ground floor window of a 68-year-old woman's home in the east of Northampton wearing a ski-mask.

Once inside he stole scraps of cash from around the house and raped the elderly woman, who had only just lost her husband.

Vernon - a prolific robber with a 31-year history of offending - denied the charges, claiming he and the pensioner had consensual sex in 1986, when he was just 18.

But the jury took little over two hours to reach a verdict today.

Judge Adrienne Lucking QC, adjourned the sentencing for eight weeks so probation officers could assess whether Vernon still posed a risk to the public.

As he is already serving a lengthy sentence for armed robbery and not due for parole until 2023, the judge said she would need to consider locking Vernon up for life.

She said: "I need to consider whether to pass a discretionary life sentence or an extended determinate sentence because of the unusual circumstances of this case, which pre-date his further offending.

"Considering he is now clean of drugs, I need to assess his dangerousness."

Vernon will be sentenced at Northampton Crown Court on August 3.