A man who allegedly raped and sexually assaulted women and girls in Sydney’s north west over nearly 30 years is behind bars after being refused bail in a Sydney court.
DNA evidence has helped police crack the cold case involving 20 rapes and a dozen women, between 1989 and 2007 in the Macquarie Park, Epping, Cheltenham, Beecroft and Hornsby areas. Victims were aged between 14 and 40.
Gregory John Richardson, a 51-year-old two truck driver was arrested at his Epping home around 7am last Thursday and led away by in his pyjamas by detectives.
It’s understood a familial DNA match led to to the breakthrough, with old evidence exhibits closely matched to his brother, who is in jail for sex offences but had an alibi.
Officers from Strike Force Petit detectives, assisted by North West Metropolitan Region Operations Support Group executed search warrants at two properties in Ryde and another at Berrilee.
“These are the worst types [of sexual assault],” Strike Force Petit Commander, Detective Superintendent John Kerlatec, said today.
“The worst you can imagine. These were predatory attacks upon people going about their business.”
Det Supt Kerlatec said the 12 victims had all been contacted immediately following the arrest, but said they’d expressed “mixed emotions”.
He said some had told him they were grateful of the progress in the case and others “sadly” were very emotional.
“Some were very relieved that these demons that have been with them 30-odd years have been removed, that they can walk around and feel safe again,” Det Supt Kerlatec said.
“These demons that have been with them for 30-odd years have been removed. They can walk around and feel safe again.”
Detectives had first linked Richardson to at four alleged cold case sexual assaults but by the afternoon of his arrest, that figure drastically rose to 20 sexual assaults.
Strike Force Petit’s investigation included a review of all material collected at the time of the attacks, such as location, descriptions provided by the women at the time and some forensic examinations.
Investigators had linked the original four separate sexual assaults on the basis of similar modus operandi and characteristics including time of the attack, state and location.
Those attacks were confirmed later to be linked by DNA evidence but the man is yet to undergo forensic testing, although police have other links to the crimes which they did not reveal at a media conference today.
“Forensic evidence wasn’t the sole contributor to this investigation,” Det Supt Kerlatec said.
Rather, he said it was “an extensive analysis of all the evidence we had at the time, by the victims”.
“We’ve had analysts scour over this … it’s like a jigsaw puzzle without knowing what the end picture looked like,” he said.
Richardson is facing 20 charges including multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault inflicting actual bodily harm, stalking and intimidation, and acts of indecency with a person under 16 around Ryde and Hornsby.
In Burwood Local Court on Friday, his lawyer made no application for bail which was formally refused and Richardson did not enter a plea for any of the charges.
He will appear before the same court via video link on August 20.