Jail for sex attacker 30 years after he committed horrific crimes

David Tait.
David Tait.
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A SEX attacker who broke into a young mother’s home in Wakefield before stabbing her and threatening to kill her toddler son has been jailed more than 30 years after he committed the horrific crimes.

David Tait punched and attempted to rape the terrified woman and said he would kill the boy unless she complied with his demands during the attack in the early hours of August 12 1984, Leeds Crown Court heard.

Lifelong criminal Tait, who stabbed the woman in the chest before she managed to escape with her son, went on to serve a numerous jail sentences for a string of unrelated crimes.

But he could not be linked to the Wakefield attack until a West Yorkshire Police cold case review team re-examined the case.

A new computer-based tool used to interpret DNA samples finally provided the evidence police needed to bring Tait to justice.

A Leeds Crown Court jury convicted Tait of attempted rape, burglary and threats to kill after a trial.

Tait, 56, of Pontefract Road, Featherstone, was jailed for 13 years.

The jury was told the woman’s husband was working away on the night Tait broke in to her home.

She was in bed asleep and woke to find him on top of her, trying to kiss her.

Jailing Tait, Judge Penelope Belcher told him: “This incident still lives with her... she is anxious even now when her husband works away from home.”

Judge Belcher said Tait’s name will be on the sex offender register for life.

After the sentencing hearing, Det Sgt Jez Freathy of West Yorkshire Police’s cold case review team, said “The team are delighted for the victim that after over 30 years she is finally able to have some closure.

“From an investigative point of view it shows that by applying new forensic techniques, offences that were considered undetectable are now detectable and offenders that thought they had escaped the net can be brought to justice.”

Tait was convicted of house burglaries in 1978, 1981, 1982 and 1983.

He was released from a prison sentence around 10 weeks before the attempted rape, which he committed while on bail.

Tait was back in prison for burglary offences two months after the attack in Wakefield.

He was heavily-convicted throughout the 1980s and 1990s for offences including assault, theft, arson, burglary, robbery and possessing an offensive weapon.

In April 2013 he was convicted of assault and making threats to kill.

The Major Incident Review Team began reviewing this case last year.

It led to a new scientific tool called ‘LiRa’ being used in this case for the very first time in West Yorkshire and identified Tait as the attacker.

John Gilbody, head of operations at Yorkshire and The Humber Scientific Support Services, said: “As DNA profiling becomes ever more sensitive the likelihood of detecting DNA from multiple sources is increasing.

“Some of these profiles are straightforward to interpret, but others can be very complex.

“LiRa, an innovative ground breaking technique developed by our partners LGC Forensics, uses sophisticated statistical software to help the courts and investigating teams understand the strength of the evidence in cases involving complicated profiles.

“There is little doubt that LiRa strongly assisted in the successful prosecution of David Leslie Tait for an offence that has remained undetected for over 30 years.”

The Major Incident Review Team has recently been boosted by 35 new investigators employed by West Yorkshire Police to help crack historic unsolved murders and serious sexual assaults. In June this year, the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner announced that over £1.5m worth of funding would be made available to review cold cases.

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, said: “I regularly speak to families who have lost loved ones and victims who have suffered horrific crimes but never seen anyone brought to account for what happened.

“This extra funding is helping old cases and it is already having a direct impact on the communities of West Yorkshire, building on incredible advances in forensic techniques and bringing about real results for loved ones desperately seeking closure and victims who have survived their ordeal but never seen anyone brought to justice.”