This story contains references to rape and sexual assault. If you or someone you know needs support, contact the Sexual Assault Crisis Line on 1800 806 292.
A RAPIST who terrorised women in the 1980s has been sentenced to at least seven years and six months behind bars, more than 30 years after committing his appalling crimes.
Rodney Eric Hampton's attacks in the Bendigo area in 1988 struck terror into his victims and were described as "abhorrent, predatory and cowardly" by Victorian County Court Judge Mark Dean this morning.
The 58-year-old, of Strathdale, was brought to justice decades after his offending with the use of DNA evidence that had been preserved after his attacks.
The court heard that Hampton followed his first victim, a 20-year-old woman, as she walked home along View Street, after a night out with friends on January 15, 1988.
He stopped her on the pretext of asking her the time before grabbing her and pushing her to the ground in the front yard of a house to rape her.
Judge Dean said Hampton was 24 years old at the time of the offending and had a young family.
Hampton struck again just two months later, attacking a 16-year-old who accepted his offer of help after she accidentally injured herself. It was March 19, 1988, and she had stepped on some broken glass and cut her foot and was limping when Hampton drove past and offered to take her home.
He instead drove her to a secluded area and raped her.
Judge Dean said the girl had been crying as Hampton drove her out of town and was terrified she would be killed. After raping her, Hampton drove her to a location in Kangaroo Flat and abandoned her there, where she was found in a distressed state by two men who took her home.
Judge Dean said he accepted Hampton's guilty pleas to two counts of rape, but rejected his assertion that he could not remember his crimes.
He listed his reasons for rejecting Hampton's claims that he couldn't recall his actions.
"Your offending on each occasion was opportunistic and you targeted a vulnerable young woman late at night," Judge Dean said.
"You offended twice. On the second occasion you were driving your car to an isolated location - and gave your victim an excuse for doing so - indicating a degree of planning,'' he said.
"You spoke to your victims in clear terms demanding that they comply with your directions. There is nothing in the description of your offending by your victims to suggest you were so intoxicated as to be likely to suffer memory loss. There is nothing in your (psychological report) to suggest you suffer from any cognitive impairment."
Judge Dean said Hampton's assertion he could not remember the attacks, due to drugs and alcohol consumption, meant the court was given no explanation for his behaviour.
"Your false claim regarding your lack of memory of your crimes reveals that you lack insight into your offending and a corresponding lack of remorse for what you did,'' he said.
Judge Dean said Hampton had been employed at an ice works after leaving school, but suffered a serious back injury in his late 30's and ended up on a disability pension and spent time in jail in the intervening years.
"Whilst there has been a very considerable delay in these charges coming to court, you have re-offended during that time,'' Judge Dean said.
"And in my opinion the passage of time is of little relevance in this case and it cannot be said that you have rehabilitated yourself since 1988."
Judge Dean said Hampton would receive a discounted sentence for pleading guilty to the charges, but the final determination must also serve as a message to the community.
He said he took into account Hampton's difficult youth, which included "serious childhood deprivation."
Judge Dean sentenced Hampton to a total term of 11 years imprisonment and said he would become eligible for parole after seven years and six months.
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