A man has been jailed in the UK for sexual assault of a school girl 12 years ago on the strength of DNA evidence. His DNA was picked up from a craft knife he returned to his son's school.
Jobless dad-of-three Steven Sellars, 42, had previously been caged three times for a string of sick offences over 11 years.
But he managed to escape justice for the vicious night-time attack near remote woods in April 1996. At least so he thought.
Sellars of York, married months later and hid his secrets from his new family, but in an incredible twist of fate he was caught after his teenage son accidentally brought a craft knife home after a school art lesson.
Playing the public-spirited dad, Sellars returned to the school last December with the knife demanding explanations - and claimed at the time he was 'doing the right thing, telling the truth and being honest.'
The police was called police and Sellars was arrested for suspected theft of knife. Although never charged, routine DNA samples were taken which linked him with the attempted rape over a decade earlier and he was taken into custody.
Jailing him for life at York Crown Court on Tuesday, Judge Stephen Ashurst said: 'This was a violent attack. You plainly targeted and waited for a lone woman and attacked her. You threatened her and she feared she was going to be killed.
'I have to bear in mind that for the last 12 years your victim has had to wonder if her attacker is still at large and if he will ever face justice. You have quite devastated her life and that is a wicked thing to do.
'You were confronted by the evidence in December last year, but you only pleaded guilty when you had no option left and the evidence was damning. Your remorse is shallow and contrived.
'You are a complex, unpredictable and dangerous man. You are likely to commit further offences in the future, and you are a man who is jailed three times for sexual offences and then offends again.'
Prosecuting, David Brooke revealed that the young student was walking home alone at 11.15pm on 23 April 1996 near the University of York campus when she was seized and viciously punched by Sellars, Daily Mail reported.
He said: 'He grabbed her hair and dragged her towards woodland. He punched her in the throat, forced her head down and placed his hand over her mouth to stop her screaming. She was terrified, and he told her "keep quiet and I won't kill you." '
Sick Sellars stopped only when neighbours who had heard her anguished cries approached the scene, and he punched her in the head before fleeing. Because she had bit his finger in the struggle and he had also forcibly kissed her, cops took DNA samples but were unable to find him.
Mr Brooke continued: 'In December 2007 he became involved in a minor incident at his son's school. He was arrested and automatically subject to a DNA swab which matched the DNA in this case.'
Mr Brooke revealed how Sellars had committed his first repulsive attack in 1985, when aged 20 he had assaulted two schoolgirls on playing fields. He was jailed for two years, but on New Year's Eve 1987 he assaulted one woman before shockingly raping another just minutes later.
He was given a total of seven years for these attacks, but in 1993 was convicted of a sexual offence against a child and imprisoned for a further three years - and committed his final offence just months after being released.
An impact statement relating to this attack revealed that the victim had 'lost confidence' as a result, and felt 'anger' at what he had done.
Mr Brooke added that when cops searched his home last December, they found he had been scouring the internet for videos relating to rape fantasies and forced sex.
Defending, Nicholas Johnson told the court that Sellars had little recollection of his period of offending due to heavy drinking.
He said: 'He has made a remarkable transformation in his life since the end of 1996 when he married, and there has been no further offending since April 1996.'
Ponytailed Sellars shook his head as he was sentenced, while friends and family members of the victim clapped and cheered as he was led to the cells. He will have to serve four years of his sentence before he is considered for parole.