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‘HIGH RISK’ RAPIST JAILED

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

A 23-YEAR-OLD man who said he "lost the run of himself" when he raped a young woman in a car and then dumped her on a road in Newry has been handed down a seven year sentence.
Detectives from the PSNI's Serious Crime Branch have welcomed the sentencing of Padraig O'Callaghan, of Monog Road, Crossmaglen.
He appeared before Newry Crown Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to rape and theft. He will spend three and a half years in prison and the remainder on licence.
At a previous hearing, Prosecutor Philip Mateer QC said that on December 11, 2011, the victim became separated from her friends at around 1am following a night out.
She was on her way towards Sugar Island to get a taxi when O'Callaghan pulled up in a car with another male in the passenger seat.
“She was spoken to by the passenger, who used friendly tones, so she thought they must have known her. She was asked if she wanted a lift and had no reason to feel threatened.
“She got in behind the passenger's seat and they drove towards the Courthouse and then up the Rathfriland Road, then on to Talbot Street where the assault occurred. She was alert enough to know she was being taken away," Mr Mateer said.
O'Callaghan then became angry and swore at the victim when he asked her to kiss him and she refused - instead asking to be taken home.
He then got into the back of the car, held her down and raped her while the passenger waited outside the car. "She pleaded for him to stop and after the incident he called her a b***h and a tramp," Mr Mateer said.
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The victim was then described as being in "a hysterical state" as O'Callaghan drove off with the her still in the car. He then stopped to let her out "dumping her on the kerb". When she tried to reach back into the car to get her handbag she was pulled back into the car and the men drove off again.
The victim was said to be "crying so hard that she couldn't breathe", and was begging to be let off the car.
She was then dragged out near The Bank Bar and her handbag, which was empty, was thrown at her - however the victim's keys, phone and £100 were missing. The court was told a stranger then allowed the victim to use their phone to call for help.
The phone was later found in Carlingford after O'Callaghan gave it to his girlfriend as a Christmas present.
O'Callaghan denied any wrongdoing and in a prepared statement said the victim had flagged him down for a lift and that she had flirted with him, initiating what he described as consensual sex.
He later told Probation Services that he "had lost the run of himself" admitting the victim had "clearly resisted sex". He also admitted stealing her phone, keys and money.
Among the aggravating factors listed, Prosecution said O'Callaghan had a male witness who claimed to be the passenger, to back up his statement that sex was consensual, but who later admitting to perverting the course of justice.
On Wednesday, Judge Kevin Finnegan QC said there were three matters to consider when sentencing O'Callaghan - the impact on the victim, the culpability of the accused and the danger to the public in future.
“After reading the victim impact report I am concerned - I consider the impact to be high and believe it will continue to be high. I consider the culpability of the accused to be high - he took advantage of a young lady who had become separated from her friends in the dark hours."
Judge Finnegan, who described rape as the "most cowardly and selfish of acts", said the theft of the victim's belongings added a further degree of humiliation and degradation, adding there is a belief that O'Callaghan poses a serious risk of future offending.
He said he would take into consideration O'Callaghan's guilty pleas "though they did come at a later stage", the fact he had no previous convictions, his remorse and his acceptance that he had "ruined the life of the injured party".
O'Callaghan showed no emotion in the dock as he was sentenced to three and half years in prison and three and a half years on licence. A concurrent six month prison sentence was also imposed for theft.
O'Callaghan will be on the Sex Offenders Register for life and under the Sexual Offence Prevention Order (SOPO) when released on licence he must adhere to curfew, not be with a female in a vehicle unaccompanied and inform Probation of any relationships with females.
The seizure of the car used in the incident was ordered, with proceeds to be donated to the Simon Community.
Commenting after the sentencing, DC Haughey from the PSNI's Rape Crime Unit said: "This was a traumatic and vindictive attack where the victim was ridiculed and intimidated.
“We are pleased to see the sentence handed down and hope this sends a clear message to all offenders. Sexual offending is unacceptable and if you offend, we will bring you before the courts.
“The victim in this case should be recognised for her bravery throughout this investigation."

 

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