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Cardiff Crime

Roland Long sentenced for stranger rape dating back 42 years

A 67-year-old man from Somerset has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for a stranger rape dating back 42 years.

Following an investigation by the South Wales Police Review Unit, Roland Long was arrested on September 15, 2020, at his home address in Somerset.

His arrest was the result of enhanced forensic work into an incident that happened on Elm Street in Cardiff, on August 17th 1980.

Detective Inspector Patrick Catto, former Head of the Major Crime Review Unit, said:

“In 1980, a woman who had recently moved to the Cardiff area got off a bus and whilst on her way home, Roland Long followed her and violently raped her.

“There was an extensive investigation at the time, however a suspect was never identified. But South Wales Police never gives up on serious crime investigations, and evidence was kept.”

“Thanks to the application of advanced DNA technology, Roland Long was identified as the person responsible and has now been brought to justice.”

Scientists from the Joint Scientific Investigation Unit (JSIU) conducted a review of the original case papers and provided specialist advice to the Review Unit, including how advancements in science and technology could assist the investigation. Items of clothing were reassessed, which revealed Roland Long to be a match, with an almost 1bn to one chance of the DNA belonging to anybody else.

Detective Superintendent Mathew Lewis, head of the JSIU, said:

“The JSIU works closely with our investigative teams, with a team of highly skilled and dedicated members of staff who look to deliver justice through science. In this case, that is exactly what has happened. 

“By utilising forensic advancements, we were able to work with the Review Unit to bring a perpetrator to justice 42 years after committing the crime.”

DI Patrick Catto added:

“Today’s sentence handed out by the judge will hopefully go some way to help the victim of this awful incident, something that she has had to live with daily for the past 42 years. 

“The fact that the offender has lived his life over this time without thought or care for his victim is unjustifiable.

“After all these years, the victim can now finally begin to rebuild her life safe in the knowledge that Roland Long is behind bars and has been brought to justice.

“The officers involved in this case have shown professionalism, determination and tenacity in bringing to justice those who cause the most harm within our communities, regardless of the passage of time.” 

“Help and support is available for all victims of sexual violence and we encourage any victims; no matter how long ago the offence happened, to come forward.”

Starting in 2019, the South Wales Police Forensic Review Unit –  under the name Operation Dudley – has been researching 335 undetected serious sexual offences across south Wales, dating back decades. 

Through the advancement of forensic science, the team, in collaboration with the Joint Scientific Investigation Unit (JSIU), has been able to identify perpetrators such as Roland Long and finally bring them to justice. 

Sexual assaults or abuse can be reported via 101, or to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Alternatively, help, advice and support can be sought from Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC). Visit http://thesurvivorstrust.org/sarc/ or contact 02920 335795.