Michael Roberts, 45, targeted vulnerable victims, selecting those who lived alone in the knowledge he would not be disturbed, London’s Southwark Crown Court was told.
He was caught 15 years after the four “horrific” assaults, following a cold case review of DNA evidence, prosecutors said.
Opening the case yesterday, Allison Hunter told jurors the evidence was likely to fill them with revulsion.
The court was told Roberts, whose substantial criminal record was “no secret”, began his series of attacks on older women as a 22-year-old.
One of his alleged victims had advanced arthritis while another was partially deaf, Miss Hunter said.
The crimes were connected by the “extent of gratuitous violence that was employed,” she added, and by the fact that each attack was committed at night.
“They were all single vulnerable victims who had difficulty walking, they all lived alone in ground floor apartments,” she told the court.
Jurors heard shocking details about the nature of the assaults in the Southwark area of south London.
Two of the women had never had a sexual experience prior to their ordeals.
While three of the women were violently raped, the fourth was subjected to a violent physical assault which fractured her jaw in three places.
The initial rapes drew widespread publicity but, as time went on, Roberts became more “forensically aware”, Miss Hunter said, wiping items that he had touched to remove evidence.
But detectives spotted similarities between his alleged crimes, committed between December 1988 and March 1990.
It soon became “abundantly clear” they were being carried out by the same person.
Although officers recovered and stored DNA following each burglary, there was at the time no system in existence through which to run comparisons and identify the culprit.
It was not until a comprehensive database was established that investigators were able to establish a link between DNA from some of the crime scenes and that of Roberts which had been entered on the system.
In 2005, partial matches were made and Roberts was arrested.
Roberts, of no fixed abode, is accused of buggery, three counts of rape, two counts of indecent assault, two counts of GBH with intent and four counts of burglary.
The trial continues today.