A man has pleaded guilty after his DNA was matched to a cold case rape almost 30 years later, despite saying he does not remember committing the 'horrific' offence.
Crown prosecutor Robyn Harper described the offending as 'every woman's worst nightmare' at the County Court in Melbourne on Monday.
Brett Braddock, 56, broke into his neighbour's home in Wendouree West with a co-offender on July 22, 1990.
He and the second offender, whose identity remains unknown to police, entered the woman's bedroom while she was sleeping and each raped her while the other was restraining her and covering her mouth.
The men were disguised with masks and gloves and the co-offender threatened to kill the victim's five daughters, who were sleeping in the rooms next door, if she did not stay silent.
Braddock, who was 26-years-old at the time of offending, pleaded guilty to one charge of burglary with the intent of committing a sexual assault and two charges of aggravated rape, one charge relating to the act of committing the rape and the other to aiding the co-offender.
The court heard Braddock was living in a housing commission property on Willow Grove in Wendouree West at the time of the offence with his de facto partner and their two children and did not know the victim.
As skeptical as I am about an incomplete memory, that is what I am left with.Judge Patricia Riddell
Braddock and the co-offender entered the victim's bedroom between 4am and 5am and placed a hand over her face to wake her up.
The victim, 38, asked 'who are you?' and the co-offender said 'I am your secret admirer, take off your pants'.
The victim said 'what about the kids?' and the co-offender said if she did not do as she was told he would kill them.
Braddock covered the victim's mouth and told her to touch his penis while the co-offender raped her.
Braddock then rolled the victim over so she was face down on the bed and anally raped her.
The co-offender told the victim he knew she had a 16-year-old daughter.
Braddock then restrained the victim by holding down her arms and the co-offender also anally raped her.
Before leaving the bedroom, the co-offender said 'lie still and don't tell anybody or I will kill the kids'.
The victim went into her daughter's bedroom and told her what had happened, upset and shaking.
The victim then spoke to her mother and decided not to call the police, fearing the offenders would act out their threats.
The victim's daughter then spoke to a neighbour about the incident who called police.
The victim and her family moved from the property into crisis accommodation before relocating to another property.
Police found seminal stains on the victim's nightgown and fitted sheet which were forensically examined.
A suspect was identified but later eliminated by DNA comparison. No other suspects were identified during the original investigation, leaving the case unsolved.
Further testing was carried out on the sample from the fitted sheet in 2012, but the male DNA profile did not match any person on the database at the time.
A review of the investigation was undertaken in 2018/19 and identified Braddock as a person of interest.
Part of the tragedy is he goes into jail now and his current family have nothing to do with any of the offending, but their lives get destroyed by it as well.John Lavery, defence barrister
He was approached by police on January 25, 2019 and agreed to provide a voluntary DNA sample that showed an extremely strong match, 100 billion times more likely he was the contributor of the DNA on the sheet.
Braddock was arrested at his Sea Lake home on April 2, 2019.
During an interview he said he recalled living in the commission house in Wendouree West and remembered police knocking on his door to ask his partner if she had heard anything the day after the offence.
Braddock denied ever going to the victim's house and being involved in the rape.
A victim impact statement provided to the court said the victim would not sleep in a double bed since being raped and had moved with her daughters to live with her mother and brother.
"We all blocked it out until they caught one of the men," she said.
Ms Harper applied for Braddock to be placed on the sex offenders register for 15 years.
Defence barrister John Lavery said Braddock's plea of guilty was significant as the victim had been spared from giving evidence in a trial.
But he said the plea did not demonstrate remorse as Braddock said he did not remember committing the offence.
Mr Lavery said Braddock was regularly consuming 'significant quantities' of cannabis and alcohol around the time of the offending.
Judge Patricia Riddell said it was difficult to accept the explanation he had no memory of the offence.
"I am happy to accept his memory might be blurry and incomplete, but to say he has no memory of this event, which clearly would have had some planning before it and some discussion between him and his co-offender... that is where it becomes difficult to accept," she said.
"As skeptical as I am about an incomplete memory, that is what I am left with. But I do accept his plea of guilty is significant."
Mr Lavery said Braddock had only one conviction of handling stolen goods soon after the rape offence, but had not offended in the 29 years since.
He said the relationship he was in at the time of the offence ended and he remarried at 38 and has had three children.
"He and his family have lived a life that is completely removed from what was going on at the time of the commission of these offences," Mr Lavery said.
"That is part of the tragedy of cases like this. Part of the tragedy is he goes into jail now and his current family have nothing to do with any of the offending, but their lives get destroyed by it as well."
Mr Lavery said Braddock suffered health complications that made prison particularly onerous, exacerbated by COVID-19 restrictions and concerns for prisoners.
In prosecution submissions, Ms Harper said Braddock's offending was 'horrific, horrendous and the ongoing impact can't really be imagined on this victim'.
Ms Harper said Braddock should be placed on the sex offender's register, as his alleged lack of memory and explanation of the offending meant he continued to pose a risk to the community.
Judge Riddell will sentence Braddock on August 5.
Braddock said goodbye to his family at court before he was remanded in custody.
If you or someone you know is in need of crisis support, phone Lifeline 13 11 14.