A violent rapist who was placed at the scene of his crime nearly 30 years ago but escaped punishment has finally been convicted thanks to advances in DNA technology.

David Mears, 60, was questioned over the rape of a 16-year-old in 1987 after his DNA was found in the flat where the brutal attack took place.

Tests showed a mixed match but Mears argued his DNA was likely to be present because he knew the previous occupant and frequently visited the property.

At the time, forensic technology was not advanced enough to directly connect him to the crime – and he was let off.

But following a cold case review using modern techniques detectives were able to prove the chances of Mears not being responsible were one billion-to-one.

Mears, of Plymouth, is now facing a lengthy jail sentence after pleading guilty to rape, false imprisonment and indecent assault at Swindon Crown Court in Wiltshire.

Judge Tim Mousley QC said: “There will inevitably be a long prison sentence in this case and the only issue for the judge to determine in the length of it.”

The court heard how Mears went on to rack up a long criminal record after the rape, including robbery, racially-aggravated assault and actual bodily harm.

He even carried out a very similar attack to the 1987 offence in 1993, for which he was jailed.

The hearing on Friday was told how the 18-year-old victim had moved into the flat in Penhill, Swindon, on the day of the attack in August 1987.

She was sleeping in the early hours when she was woken by someone in the premises in the darkness.

The intruder grabbed and blindfolded her, then dragged her back to the bedroom where he ripped off what she was wearing and raped her.

During the savage attack he bit her breast, tied her up and forced her to carry out another sex act on him.

When police finally caught up with him he admitted he had stolen underwear from women in the area, including the victim.

The court also heard details of a very similar attack he carried out in 1993, where he broke into a ground floor flat in the dead of night with socks on his hands.

He woke a 20-year-old by putting his hand over her face and nose and then bit his victim’s breast before forcing her to carry out a sex act on him.

He put a ripped pillow case over her face and asked for money and then took her to the bathroom where he threatened to drown her.

Mark Sharman, mitigating, told the court that Mears was now a completely different man to 30 years ago.

Detective Inspector Mark Power said: “On Wednesday, August 12, 1987, David Mears broke into a property in Swindon and carried out a vicious sexual assault on a 16-year-old woman. An investigation was launched at the time but no one was convicted.

“However, following a detailed review of our cold cases officers from the Major Crime Investigation Team (MCIT) identified new lines of enquiries for this serious sexual assault.

“The Brunel team reviewed this case and new evidence was discovered through the use of modern forensic methods. Methods which were not available to officers 30 years ago, but thanks to the advances in technology we were able to take this case forward.

“We now await sentencing, following today’s guilty plea – which we see as a positive result, reflecting the hard work the Brunel team has done and the benefits of the advancement in forensics.

“The welfare of the victim continues to be our priority and we are ensuring that she is provided specialist support.

The case was adjourned for sentencing on July 8 and Mears was remanded in custody.

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