27/04/2012 15:59 BST | Updated 27/04/2012 16:03 BST

Rapist Alexander McGuire Imprisoned 25 Years After Sex Attack

A rape victim whose assailant escaped justice for a quarter of a century said she was finally able to let go of a "shadow" hanging over her as he was jailed today.

Mother-of-three Joy Smith said she was "left with a life sentence" when Alexander McGuire was acquitted of the "devastating" sex assault at his trial 25 years ago.

But today she spoke of her relief as he was handed an eight-year prison term following a cold-case review.

Detectives were able to pin the crime on McGuire after they reopened the case and examined forensic evidence gathered during Mrs Smith's original medical examination.

Their analysis, using new techniques, revealed a DNA profile which matched the defendant's and led officers to conclude that the likelihood they had got the wrong man was one in a billion.

Mrs Smith, 53, who waived her right to anonymity, wept as she faced him again in court.

"To see him walk in was a big shock because it was just like yesterday ... like I was seeing it again," she said later.

"When the judge was summing up, I was watching him and he started breathing deeply and I thought: yes, it's affecting him."

Mrs Smith, who was forced to move away from her home following the attack, added: "It's just been a shadow hanging over me, constantly there when you go out, the fear that something will happen. It's been constant.

"I couldn't get past it, I couldn't get on with my life. It was always there and you can't get away from it.

"But I felt today like I let go of it, hopefully, and put it behind me as best I can.

"It's been a bad few years. I knew he was guilty - 26 years ago, I knew he was guilty - but I had to wait until now for him to admit it."

Earlier Reading Crown Court court heard how McGuire pounced on his victim while she was at work at a branch of McDonald's in Windsor, Berkshire, in November 1986.

Mrs Smith, then 29, was on a late shift and had gone down to the restaurant's lower area to use the toilet at around 9pm.

As she emerged from the cubicle, she was confronted by McGuire who told her he had a knife, pushed her back through the door and raped her.

He was arrested some months later, charged and tried but found not guilty on the orders of the judge.

The verdict came despite evidence from his victim who was able to pick out her attacker in an identity parade.

Mrs Smith, now a grandmother living in Darlington, Co Durham, fled to Germany with her soldier husband Colin in a bid to move on with her life. She went on to suffer panic attacks and depression.

Years later, her ordeal was reinvestigated by Thames Valley Police's major crime review squad.

Officers applied to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consent for the case to be reinvestigated under double jeopardy legislation contained within the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

McGuire was arrested at his home in Greyhound View, Sandy, Bedfordshire, last July and the original trial verdict was quashed by the Court of Appeal in December. He pleaded guilty in March.

In a statement read out today, Mrs Smith said: "I knew the right man was in court (on the first occasion) and couldn't believe that he had got off.

"But I decided to get on with my life and try and carry on. He walked free from court that day to enjoy his life while I was left with a life sentence and the worry that he would find me again."

The balding and bespectacled defendant, now 61, stared straight ahead and showed no emotion as his sentence was handed down.

Judge Zoe Smith told him: "These are matters on which nightmares are made.

"There can be no woman or man who can think of circumstances more terrifying than this.

"For your victim, not only did she have to deal with the impact of the rape itself and the terror that she had felt, but such was her distress that she and her family felt obliged to leave the area, leave her job and, because this is a cold case review, we know now the devastating effect that that event had on her life."

The court heard McGuire, who served with the Scots Guards, had a "very serious" history of sexual offending. He was jailed for three years at the Old Bailey in 1980 for two counts of rape and one count of burglary with intent to commit rape.

At the time it was noted: "This man will undoubtedly come to the notice of police again with respect of sex offences" - words which turned out to be "tragically prophetic", Alan Blake, prosecuting, told the court.

McGuire, who was dishonourably discharged from the Armed Forces, was imprisoned for a further five years for kidnapping a 17-year-old girl just three months after the 1986 attack.

He will serve half half of his sentence behind bars, minus the number of days he has already spent in custody.