DNA taken as the result of a marijuana-growing drug bust has led to the conviction of Port Kennedy man Darren Robert Atkinson (44) for the cold-case sexual assaults of teenage women in Tuart Hill and Queen’s Park.
Both assaults were about two decades old, before Mr Atkinson was sentenced to 15 years, with a 12-year minimum and eligibility for parole, for them at the Perth District Court today.
“The conviction of this offender Atkinson clearly demonstrates the beneficial outcomes that can result from taking identifying particulars whenever the opportunity arises in terms of solving past or future crimes,” WA Police Assistant Commissioner Michelle Fyfe said.
Mrs Fyfe said Mr Atkinson’s conviction had provided “some answers and closure” for the victims of his attacks.
WA’s forensic DNA database of about 264,000 DNA profiles is the second-largest in Australia.
Police can take samples if a person is a suspect or charged with a serious offence with a maximum penalty of more than 12 months jail.
At the court, Mr Atkinson was found guilty of the sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman in her Tuart Hill apartment on July 24, 1999, and an 18-year-old woman in Queen’s Park on June 21, 1997.
His sentence includes additional burglary and deprivation of liberty convictions which will run concurrently with his imprisonment for the assaults, when he broke into the women’s homes and tied them up before committing his sex crimes.
Mr Atkinson was armed with a knife and wearing a balaclava when he entered the Queen’s Park apartment, where the woman was alone.
Almost 19 years later, Rockingham police conducting an unrelated investigation raided Mr Atkinson’s Port Kennedy home on March 14.
Today, the court heard an alleged hydroponic marijuana growing and sales operation was found in the house, allowing police to take Mr Atkinson’s DNA sample.
Subsequent tests at State Laboratories connected the samples to the Tuart Hill and Queen’s Park incidents, and officers from the State Crime Operations Squad started a new investigation into those crimes.
Mr Atkinson was arrested in May, before pleading guilty to the sex crimes at Perth Magistrates Court in June.
He will appear in court to face charges from the drug raid on February 2.