A former Williamstown shipyard worker has been sentenced to 10 years jail for his role in a brutal New Year’s Day gang rape three decades ago.

Gregory John Challenger, 57, must spend at least seven years behind bars before being eligible for parole after being found guilty of three charges of aggravated rape by a County Court jury.

He was linked to the 1986 cold case by DNA technology not available at the time.

The victim, then aged 21, had travelled to Lorne with friends to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

After watching the fireworks, she sat on a blanket with a young man before realising there were people hiding in the dunes.

Four men surrounded the pair and the victim’s friend ran to get help.

Two of the men started grabbing at the victim, who began screaming and yelling.

One of the men, later identified as Challenger, punched her twice in the face before sexually assaulting her.

The men then dragged her over a barbed wire fence and the victim was sexually assaulted again.

The assault only stopped when a passer-by intervened.

In 2015, the year Challenger was made redundant from BAE Systems at Williamstown, his saliva sample was taken as part of an unrelated investigation.

A computer-generated comparison linked him to the 1986 crime.

In 2016, the victim was shown 12 photographs including one of Challenger taken in 1987.

The court heard the victim began to shake and identified Challenger as the man who had punched and raped her.

She said, “It’s him, it is his eyes”.

Challenger pleaded not guilty to all charges but his alibi was rejected by a jury.

In her victim impact statement read out to the court the woman wrote: “The clenched fist coming towards my face remains a most vivid memory and the one that wakes me from nightmares.”

The court heard Challenger would likely remain in protective custody in prison.