A man who raped a 17-year-old girl in a Paignton park 30 years ago has been found guilty at Exeter Crown Court.

Following a five-day-trial, 47-year-old Sam Robinson from Brookside, Totton, Southampton, has been found guilty of the rape and indecent assault in the grounds of Oldway Mansion in July 1984. He has subsequently been sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment.

Following sentencing the judge praised the victim for her courage in coming forward.

The initial investigation in 1984, led by Detective Chief Inspector Geoff Booth, continued for some time but exhausted all lines of enquiry and the case was eventually closed down.

In 2011 the victim, aware that Devon and Cornwall police were successfully re-opening and investigating cold case rape offences, bravely re-contacted police.

The Cold Case Review Team, based at Police Headquarters in Exeter, had a small number of forensic exhibits from the original investigation re-examined and a DNA profile was extracted, leading them to Robinson.

The case was then passed to the Major Crime Investigation Unit at Ashburton, headed by Det Insp John Ardron.

Further enquiries were made and Robinson was arrested at his home in Southampton. He was subsequently interviewed and charged.

DI Ardron said: “This was a vicious attack on a young girl who was on her way home after an evening out with her boyfriend. She was violently assaulted and raped.

“We welcome the verdict and hope it helps the victim to finally bring some kind of closure to what must have been a horrendous incident. She has shown great courage and resolve by contacting the police and throughout the investigation.

“All investigations of this nature have to be victim-focused. Without the victim working with us we would never be able to progress any enquiries or look to bring an offender to justice.

DI Ardron said that this was the most historic case of its nature that Devon and Cornwall Police have progressed, adding: “This conviction is another example of how the development of forensic techniques are assisting us to reopen historic cases and we look towards bringing more convictions of this nature.