'She can finally rest in peace': Rape victim's daughters find some comfort in guilty verdict 22 years later

Jurors have found Wayne Bernard, 55, guilty of a 1995 kidnapping, sexual assault with a weapon and robbery, even though his victim died a decade ago and never knew her rapist had been caught.

Maureen — whose real name is protected by a publication ban — was 51 at the time and died of cancer in 2007. "Our mom was violently taken that morning and returned to us before we even knew she was missing," said her daughters in a statement read after the verdict.

"She was never the same after that awful morning; she was not killed but her sparkle was gone and her spirit was forever extinguished."

The jury returned the verdict at 9 p.m. Wednesday after deliberating for about eight and a half hours. Maureen's children cried tears of relief in the otherwise quiet courtroom.

Det. Michelle Moffatt reopened the cold case in 2014 and sent some of the evidence to the lab for testing. DNA collected from Maureen's rape kit came back as a match to Wayne Bernard.

"I think that the community, the people of the city of Calgary should feel pride that we have this kind of police force, we have these kinds of dedicated personnel who will send the message that no matter how old the offence, it will not be forgotten," said prosecutor Pam McCluskey.

The prosecution team of McCluskey and Samina Dhalla successfully applied for Maureen's 16-page handwritten police statement to be allowed in as evidence at the trial.

Jurors heard Maureen was working overnight at a catering shop, preparing food for the following day when an intruder broke in. He then took Maureen's keys and forced her into her own van before driving to a gravel pit on the outskirts of the city and raping her. 

She was kicked out of the vehicle and flagged down a passing couple who called 911 and drove her home.

Bernard testified in his own defence that he and Maureen became smoking buddies because of their neighbouring workplaces and said the pair had consensual sex hours before someone else kidnapped and raped her. 

The jury didn't believe his story despite the fact that they did not hear evidence of Bernard's prior sexual assault and assault with a weapon convictions.

"It was a day of horror and was the beginning of two decades of turmoil for our mom and for all of us sisters," said Maureen's children. "We are relieved to finally have justice for our mom and finally have the answers we were seeking."

A sentencing hearing will be booked before Court of Queen's Bench Justice Bruce Millar at a later date.