New West Police Chief Cst. Dave Jones lays out the details of the 1996 sexual assault of a senior. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)

VIDEO: Man arrested in 1996 sexual assault of New Westminster senior

James Gray of Vancouver has been charged in connection with the sexual assault of Dorothy Darnell

New Westminster Police have arrested a Vancouver man in connection with the 1996 sexual assault of 79-year-old Dorothy Darnell.

James Gray, 48, has been charged with aggravated sexual assault, break-and-enter, forcible confinement, robbery, choking to overcome resistance and uttering threats. Gray is in custody to appear in court. He has what Scott called a “lengthy criminal history of property related offences.”

On the morning of Oct. 4, 1996, Darnell was attacked while asleep in her New Westminster home.

“Her attacker beat her so severely that her cheekbone was shattered and she would lose sight in one eye,” a New Westminster Police statement reads. “After Darnel lost consciousness the attacker sexually assaulted her.”

A $12,000 reward was offered by New West Police and an anonymous donor.

In March 2016, a DNA link was established between the 1996 file and a Coquitlam break-and-enter, said Sgt Jeff Scott. The Coquitlam break-and-enter did not involve a senior, he added.

“There was DNA that was collected from our investigation that was put into a bank that matched a DNA hit from a Coquitlam RCMP file,” Scott said.

Darnell passed away in 2015, Chief Cst. Dave Jones said, but her family has been notified. Jones praised Darnell’s advocacy for seniors’ safety following the assault.


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