A 'dangerous' man has been handed a 25-year jail sentence for breaking into an elderly Northampton widow's home in 1986 and raping her at knifepoint.
Donovan Vernon escaped justice for the 'abhorrent' crime for over 30 years after he attacked the 68-year-old woman wearing a balaclava.
But at Northampton Crown Court today (December 10), the 50-year-old was told he was a 'dangerous' man who posed a threat to the public and was facing only leaving prison when he was into his 70s.
Vernon was finally arrested in 2015 after a police cold case team caught him by matching his DNA to evidence left at the scene.
The 50-year-old did not flinch as Her Honour Judge Adrienne Lucking read out how he broke into the elderly victim's home and entered her room as she slept.
She said: "[The victim] should have been safe and secure in her home... But the next thing she was aware of when she opened her eyes was a masked figure standing by her bed with a knife. It was you.
"She pleaded with you not to hurt her. But you told her you didn't care."
Vernon raped the 68-year-old at knifepoint. He also forced her to empty out her purse to him - which amounted to £20 in notes and a meagre handful of change.
He then fled the house. The victim immediately went to her neighbour's house, who called the police.
The court heard how the victim's son thought his mother never truly recovered from the attack, and was 'simply to stoic to talk about it or plead for help'.
She died eight years later, aged 76.
During his trial, Vernon - who was 18 at the time of the attack and in the army - lied to the jury and said he had a 'casual sexual relationship' with the pensioner.
But he was found guilty by a unanimous verdict in May.
Judge Lucking said: "There was no such relationship... This was a lady who lived quietly, but she was social with her family and friends.
"You have only added insult to her memory."
The judge ruled Vernon - who has a lifelong history of violent and criminal activity, including robbery with a knife and burglary - was a 'dangerous' man who presented a risk to the public, and handed him an 18-year sentence extended to 25 years.
However, the sentence will run concurrent to a 17-year sentence he is already serving in prison - meaning he could be released as early as 2028.