DNA evidence has helped convict a career criminal over the 1998 violent sexual assault of a woman in her West Ryde apartment.
In the Sydney District Court on Friday, Shane Michael William Kitchener, 40, said he had no recollection of breaking into the home and threatening to kill the then 29-year-old woman 16 years ago.
Kitchener, who was on parole at the time for assault with intent to rob, said he was addicted to heroin at the time and had an $800 to $1000 a day drug habit.
Giving evidence at his sentencing hearing before Judge Michael Bozic, Kitchener said: "I can't remember it. I wish I could go back and change things."
Police said no arrests were made at the time, but a re-examining in 2012 of DNA evidence collected at the scene led to police solving the cold case.
The court heard the victim had just woken up and was sitting on the balcony of the apartment on West Parade about 9.15am on March 24, 1998.
Kitchener grabbed her in a "bear hug", dragged her inside and demanded money.
She told police she initially thought it was her friend playing a joke on her until she heard a male voice say, "If you move or fight with me I'm going to kill you."
When she struggled, punching and kicking him, he choked her with his hands and then a shoelace until she surrended.
He sexually assaulted her and continued to make threats to kill her if she did not hand over money.
"Because you're fighting with me I'm going to punish you," he said.
He eventually left.
Judge Bozic said it was a "terrifying ordeal" and sentenced Kitchener to a total of seven years with a non-parole period of four years and three months for aggravated sexual assault inflicting actual bodily harm and entering a house with intent to commit a serious indictable aggravated offence.
Kitchener pleaded guilty on the second day of his trial in October last year.
The victim had flown to Sydney from her native Hungary expecting to give evidence.
Kitchener's barrister Marcus Juhasz said the guilty plea meant the victim would avoid having to recount the traumatic experience before a jury and should be taken into account in sentencing.
But the Crown prosecutor, David Judd, said the woman had taken the long journey and prepared herself to give evidence.
"The harm has been substantial," Mr Judd said.
Judge Bozic gave Kitchener a 10 per cent discount on sentence for the late plea.
The court heard the married father of two had his foot amputated following a high speed motorcycle crash during a police pursuit in 2011.
He also lost a lung following a nightclub brawl in 1995 in which he was stabbed in the chest and placed in an induced coma for nine weeks. He is housed in protective custody in jail.
He will be eligible for parole in January 2017.