WA rapist jailed after DNA breakthrough

Angie Raphael

A Perth man who armed himself with a knife then tied up, blindfolded, threatened and brutally raped two young women when they were home alone in separate attacks almost 20 years ago has been jailed for 15 years.

Darren Robert Atkinson, 45, was only caught after police took a DNA sample in May when they arrested him for a cannabis offence and matched it to a sample from the earlier crime.

Atkinson burst into the home of an 18-year-old woman in Queens Park in June 1997 after spotting her through a window and knocking on her door, the West Australian District Court heard on Thursday.

He tied the woman up and covered her face with a shirt then raped her and tried to steal some money.

"Stay here for two hours. Don't talk, don't scream, don't move. I'll be watching you," he told her.

Atkinson similarly attacked a 19-year-old woman in Tuart Hill in July 1999 after he spoke to her briefly on the street then followed her home, the court heard.

He entered her unit through an unlocked door and covered the woman's face with a pillowcase, saying: "Do you want to live?"

After repeatedly raping her, Atkinson told the victim it would be best to forget about it and she was lucky, adding that she should not phone anyone because he would be watching.

The court heard when Atkinson was arrested in May police revealed his DNA matched the 1999 offences.

A week later, Atkinson also admitted to the 1997 case despite not knowing whether police had any evidence against him, and the court heard the woman never actually reported the attack, only the break-in.

Judge Stephen Scott described the attacks as degrading and horrific, saying it must have been an "absolutely terrifying experience" for the victims.

Referring to the victim impact statements, Judge Scott said each woman had been severely traumatised, adding women were entitled to feel safe in their own homes.

"They have been sentenced to a life of insecurity and have found it particularly difficult to pursue any relationship, and they have both had to fight very hard for any semblance of a normal life," he said.

"They were both young women at the time of this offending and they have lost the enjoyment of that part of their lives, which should have been so rewarding."

Atkinson, who kept his head down during most of the proceedings, must serve at least 13 years behind bars before he can be eligible for parole, and his victims also have a lifetime restraining order against him.

Police Assistant Commissioner Michelle Fyfe said the case demonstrated the benefit of taking "identifying particulars" to solve past or future crimes.

"Not only is justice served after all that time, but Atkinson's conviction has provided some answers and closure for the victims of those two attacks," she said.

"Both victims have told police they are very thankful for the arrest and prosecution of Atkinson although it has meant they've had to relive these horrific events again."

WA has the second-largest forensic DNA database in Australia after Queensland, with about 264,000 DNA profiles.