herald

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Court erupts in applause as 'violent' rapist Hearne is given 12-year sentence

Keith Hearne pleaded guilty
Keith Hearne pleaded guilty

Applause broke out in the Central Criminal Court when Keith Hearne was jailed for 12 years for violently raping Dominique Meehan in a Dublin hotel during a gaming convention.

Hearne (28) had brought a "rape kit" with a prop knife, handcuffs, mask and condoms and told the woman: "I could break your neck here and now."

Handing down the sentence, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said the ordeal had been "devastating" for the victim.

Hearne stood with his arms by his side and stared at the judge as sentence was passed.

Ms Meehan (24) cried and hugged supporters, who burst into applause as Hearne was led away.

Judge McCarthy ordered that Hearne is put under post-release probation supervision for five years.

Hearne, from Tallaght, pleaded guilty to two counts of rape, one count of oral rape and one count of falsely imprisoning the victim at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Blanchardstown on July 4, 2015.

Defence barrister Michael Bowman asked that the address of the family home not be reported again in the press as the house had been "targeted by persons who were displeased by his offending behaviour".

Judge McCarthy said it was a case where it was "frankly difficult" to express the horror of the offence.

Report

The judge said the accused perpetrated an "extremely violent series of sexual offences" on the victim.

Having read the victim impact statement, Judge McCarthy said Ms Meehan was a "very impressive person" and "these events have been devastating for her."

Reading a psychiatric report, the judge said Hearne had schizoaffective disorder and autism spectrum disorder. The report found Hearne was "of sound mind" at the time of the offence, so his "culpability was not diminished in any way", Judge McCarthy said.

If released into the community, Hearne would fall into the "moderate to high risk group" for sexual re-offending, the report concluded.

A probation report put it more "starkly" and stated the accused was at high risk of re-offending.

The judge noted Hearne had "failed to submit properly to treatment". The only mitigating factor he found was the accused's guilty plea.

At an earlier hearing, Garda Lisa Lawler told prosecuting counsel Shane Costelloe that Ms Meehan was volunteering at the ArcadeCon gaming convention.

She was preparing a presentation in a meeting room when Hearne entered the room and sat at the back. She became uneasy and moved to leave, but Hearne locked the door and threw her to the ground.

The attack stopped only when another conference worker entered the room using a hotel key card. Hearne told arresting gardai he had gone to the convention in the hopes of getting with another woman.

When that woman rejected him he said he had "anger flowing through him" and he then attacked his victim Ms Meehan.

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