Beds, Herts & Bucks

'Evil' rapist jailed for Bedford park attack

A ranger who raped a young woman 22 years ago at the country park where he worked has been jailed for a total of 16 years.

Robert Saint, 53, was told by a judge at Luton Crown Court that he was "an evil and dangerous man".

He was arrested in 2008 when Bedfordshire Police reopened the investigation in a cold case review using DNA evidence from 1989.

The attack took place at Priory Country Park, Bedford.

Saint, who was still living near the park when he was arrested, had pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The victim, aged 21 at the time of the attack, agreed to co-operate with the reopened investigation.

When Saint was arrested, police also reopened the files on a sexual assault on a young girl in 1986.

Saint denied all charges. He stood trial for the park rape and was convicted but his conviction was overturned on appeal and a retrial ordered.

Judge Michael Baker QC told Saint: "I do not regard the passing of time as a mitigating factor.

"Those who believe for many years that they have got away with it should not have their sentence reduced just because justice has taken time to catch up.

"I am concerned that you remain an evil and dangerous man."

He praised the bravery of the two victims in coming to court.

He was jailed on Friday for nine-and-a-half years for rape, false imprisonment, and two counts of indecent assault.

He was sentenced to an additional six-a-half-years for two offences of indecent assault and three of indecency with a child dating back to 1986.

Grabbed from behind

Prosecutor Gordon Aspden said: "There was major breakthrough as a full DNA profile matching him was obtained and the probability of it coming from someone else was one in a billion."

He told the court how the woman had been grabbed from behind before she was raped and sexually assaulted.

She "absolutely" denied Saint's claims that he had consensual sex with her the day before she alleged she had been raped.

Phillip King QC, defending Saint, said: "He will serve this sentence in difficult circumstances.

"His loyal wife is a victim of his behaviour as her life has suffered substantially."

Saint has been serving a four-year jail sentence for child pornography offences and voyeurism.

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