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The 38-year-old cold case rape and the police fighting for justice

“We are limited with the avenues of inquiry we have. But there’s enough there,” she says.

Police will today appeal for fresh information about the horrific attack, as the cold case unit re-examines the circumstances around the case.

The teenager was with friends at Flinders Street Railway station on the morning of March 24, 1982, when they were approached by a man who spoke with one of the young girls.

They told him to leave them alone but the man loitered nearby.

The head of the sexual crimes squad, Juliann Goldrick.

The head of the sexual crimes squad, Juliann Goldrick.Credit:Nine News

When the victim left her friends to catch a train to her home in Nunawading, he approached her and agreed to drive her home.

She told police she believes they drove for about an hour, before the man got petrol, and then continued driving for another 20 minutes.

Suddenly, the man stopped the car on a deserted dirt road. The teen was blindfolded and gagged, and driven further away.

The man raped the teenage girl, then threatened to kill her. She was left on the dirt road and the man fled in his car.

The teen was able to reach a nearby road where a car with a couple inside stopped to help her. They drove her back to the Melbourne CBD and the teenager got medical help at the Queen Victoria Hospital, which no longer exists.

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She then reported the incident to police.

Even so, despite an investigation at the time, no-one has ever been arrested or charged over the rape. There is no DNA evidence relating to the offender, so police must now try other lines of inquiry.

Key to the investigation is the couple who picked up the teenager after the brutal attack.

“When we are talking about 38 years ago, we are relying on witness testimony and accounts. We don’t have the CCTV, we don’t have the modern-day luxuries we have now. That’s why it’s so important to find these people,” Detective Inspector Goldrick says.

“This is something that would stand out in someone’s memory. There’s a good chance that they’ll remember this. And it might just be that final piece of the puzzle that will help us solve this matter.”

Police have little description of the couple, only that they were older than the victim but not elderly.

“If you saw someone on the side of the road, you’re never going to forget that. You’re never going to forget driving a traumatised woman to the CBD,” Detective Inspector Goldrick says.

“They are probably curious all these years later about what actually happened.”

While there have been persons of interest over the years, she says there isn’t enough information to point to a firm suspect.

The case is one of about 40 currently being looked at by the cold case unit within the sexual crimes squad of Victoria Police.

The team, made up of eight detectives, was started in 2012. It is focused on finding closure for victims, even if the offence occurred decades ago. They are working on many crimes reported over the 1980s and 1990s.

Sexual Crimes Squad Cold Case Unit

  • Currently working on 40 unsolved matters
  • Range in date from 1980 until recently
  • Eight detectives

“If something is unsolved, we will never put it to the side. We will always keep it there and reinvestigate at every opportunity … nothing is ever closed unless it is actually solved,” Detective Inspector Goldrick says.

“It is important to bring someone to justice no matter how long it’s between the crime. And sometimes when we connect someone to one crime we will connect them to other crimes.”

Just this week, a 58-year-old man was arrested in Mill Park, in Melbourne’s north, and charged with the rape and kidnap of two teenage girls in St Kilda in 1987.

“We need to make sure that we bring these people to justice so the community is safe. We don’t want them living in the community without knowing who they are.”

Changes to DNA legislation last year in Victoria allowed police to take swabs from those suspected of a serious crime without a court order. This is leading to a greater database of profiles against which old cases can be tested.

“We’ve had some really good solves out of that unit,” Detective Inspector McGoldrick says.

“With the DNA legislation, we can take DNA off a lot more people than we could before for a variety of reasons. So that means obviously we’re getting more samples … and starting to capture a lot more DNA, and with that comes a lot more solvability.

“There’s so much change, it would be difficult to establish exactly how much change has occurred in 38 years of policing. The opportunities to solve things are so much better.”

The 1982 rape is one of the older cases currently being looked at by the unit.

Detective Inspector Goldrick says it has had a lifelong impact on the woman, who has since moved interstate.

“It was very traumatic. She has suffered greatly as a result of this matter. I think if we managed to solve this it would give her a feeling of safety and closure that she doesn’t currently have,” she says.

In a short statement provided to The Age, the victim said: “This incident has had a huge impact on my life. I’m really pleased that Victoria Police is still looking at this after all these years.”

And Detective Inspector Goldrick is hopeful they can bring her justice.

“We will try anything to solve these matters. And now that I’m seeing the work that’s done in there, I’m amazed at how many of these matters can actually be solved. It’s really impressive.”

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