Robert John Hall assaulted a 23-year-old escort twice in a Kiama motel room on the NSW south coast on March 25, 1990. The then 32-year-old threatened to stab her with a long knife if she did not obey him, at one point warning her "I'll f---ing kill you if you do that again."
Hall was only caught because he drove away from a Queensland petrol station in 2007 without paying, which led police to swab his DNA and link him to the 1990 offences through National Criminal Investigation DNA Database records.
Before the trial last year, Crown prosecutors were attempting to pursue Hall over a second, alleged rape dating back to the same era, also involving a sex worker.
Read more: One year in jail for Kiama Motel rape
Sydney newspapers at the time reported that police believed the Kiama offender was responsible for one or two other attacks on sex workers in the area in the months prior.
"Police said that in both cases the method of attack and the description of the attacker were similar," the Herald reported.
The now defunct Mirror described how the rapist taped "sticking plaster" over the eyes of his victim and said police were "almost certain" the same offender had committed two other offences in the previous month.
According to lawyers familiar with the case, a statement from the other woman describing an alleged sexual assault could not be relied on legally because she was not alive to answer questions about it under cross-examination.
Hall was convicted in November of two counts of using a weapon to coerce sex and two counts of sexual intercourse without consent. He had testified the sex with the 23-year-old was consensual.
In sentencing him on September 1 to a five-year sentence with one year non-parole, District Court Judge Peter Whitford said the offences represented "objectively quite terrible conduct".
But he found the volunteer firefighter and family man was already rehabilitated, a "fully participating, productive member of society".
"It is not unheard of for people to have a wayward early life, characterised by offending, sometimes even quite serious offending, and other anti-social conduct which, with developing maturity and insight, is ultimately forsaken for a more law abiding, productive and pro-social existence," Judge Whitford said.
"Mr Hall appears to be one such person."
The judge found Hall was also entitled to receive a lesser sentence because he committed his crimes in 1990 when sentences for rapes were lighter. The sentence took into account Hall's age, 59, the suffering of his family and his presentation as a medium suicide risk.
District court registrar Nicole Hoffman has refused to release in redacted form the materials Judge Whitford considered in making his decision, arguing it was "almost impossible" to know what detail might tend to identify the sexual assault victim.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has launched an appeal against the sentence on the grounds that it is too lenient.
Mr Hall's lawyer Leo Premutico has said he planned to file an appeal against the conviction.
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