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Friday 20 October 2017

'I'm finally safe but I need to warn others about dangers of vile rapist'

Dominique Meehan has bravely waived her right to anonymity to warn others
Dominique Meehan has bravely waived her right to anonymity to warn others

A young woman who was tied up and raped in a hotel meeting room says she waived her right to anonymity as she wanted to expose what her attacker did and warn others.

Speaking to the Herald, Dominique Meehan (24), from Co Donegal, said she is "delighted" that her attacker is now in custody, after he pleaded guilty to raping her as she was preparing for a presentation at a gaming convention in a West Dublin hotel.

"I had fears that he could corner me while he was out on bail. But now that I know he is behind bars I can feel safe again," she said.

"I felt I had to expose what he did because there are still a lot of people in the gaming world who follow him on Facebook and I wanted them to know who he is so that they could be safe."

Keith Hearne, of Allenton Drive, Tallaght, Dublin 24, pleaded guilty to two counts of rape, one count of oral rape and one count of falsely imprisoning Ms Meehan at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Blanchardstown on July 4, 2015.

He has now been placed in custody until his sentencing date later this year.

Ms Meehan was attacked as she prepared for a presentation during a busy gaming convention called ArcadeCon.

She did not know Hearne, but had recognised him from a previous convention she had attended.

"He would always appear in his top hat, trench coat, shirt and tie," Ms Meehan told the Herald.

She said she and her friends thought him an odd character.

"I think I met him for 30 seconds in 2011 at a Galway convention, but I didn't know him personally," she said.

"He was a creepy individual, not into conversation, but would nod at people and stare at them.

"You do get some strange people at conventions but he was different," she added.

Knife

The Central Criminal Court heard how Ms Meehan was preparing a presentation in a meeting room at the hotel when Hearne entered the room and sat at the back.

She became uneasy and moved to leave the room but Hearne locked the door and threw her to the ground.

"I could break your neck here and now, would you prefer that?" he said to her, before telling her to be a "good girl".

He then bound her hands with his tie and raped her. When she screamed he said he had a knife in his bag and would use it if she was not quiet.

His bag, containing a prop knife, handcuffs, condoms, a mask and "sadomasochistic" items, was found at the scene.

"He told me he had a weapon. In my mind it was pre-meditated, especially when you take what was in the bag into consideration," Ms Meehan said.

The attack stopped only when another conference worker entered the room using a hotel key card. Gardai were called and Hearne was arrested at the scene.

He told officers he had gone to the convention in the hopes of attracting another woman.

When that woman rejected him he said he had "anger flowing through him" and he then entered the meeting room and attacked his victim.

Defence counsel Michael Bowman told the court that Hearne has mental health issues and suffers from a bipolar disorder. He had not taken his medication for some time around the time of the attack.

He said his client engaged in "absolute opportunism and exploitation" of his victim and that there was "no excuse" for what he did.

It was an "unspeakable intrusion and violation of her person", Mr Bowman added.

However, he submitted Hearne had no previous convictions and suffers from a range of conditions, including Asperger's syndrome, ADHD, dyslexia and bi-polar disorder.

He is now back on his medication and is "remorseful in the extreme", Mr Bowman said.

Ms Meehan took to the stand and described how she woke up every night crying for months after the attack, "thinking he had come back to finish the job".

"Before this, I wouldn't call myself an angry person," she said.

"But now I punch walls, scream and walk out on conversations. I don't know what to do with this anger."

She described how she has struggled with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, self-harming and suicidal thoughts since she was raped.

"People see me smiling and laughing. They don't see me curled up under a blanket on my sofa," she said.

She described how she has had numerous piercings and tattoos since the attack "just so I can feel like my body is my own and not something he touched," she said.

Supportive

Ms Meehan told the Herald that she is gay, and as such feels that more was taken from her in the attack. Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy adjourned the sentence to June 19, to get further medical reports.

Ms Meehan's supportive friend, Kae Devine, said the event at which she was attacked was organised by their group called ArcadeCon.

"We had been running for around six years and built up a great community of friends, but after what happened we just didn't have the heart to organise any more events," she said.

"But we are all very supportive of Dominique and of each other, even though we don't host those events anymore."

The Rape Crisis Centre can be contacted on 1800 778 888

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