herald

Saturday 26 May 2018

Killer sex offender held after suspected imitation gun found in swoop

Derek Clarke
Derek Clarke

A Convicted killer and sex offender was arrested after gardai raided his home at the weekend.

Derek 'The Panther' Clarke (39) has since been released from custody at Blanchardstown Garda Station, where he was questioned about the discovery of a suspected imitation firearm and a quantity of cannabis.

The raid was carried out at Clarke's home on the Moneymore estate in Drogheda, Co Louth, on Saturday.

Reckless

A file will now be prepared for the DPP, and Clarke could face further jail time.

"This individual is not really part of any gang. His criminal offending record indicates that he is too reckless to be really trusted by organised criminals," a source said.

In July 2005, Clarke was jailed for six years for the manslaughter of a 57-year-old man who he claimed sexually molested his girlfriend while they slept rough in Dublin's Island Street.

Clarke pushed victim Martin Reilly away after he had put his arm around the woman.

Mr Reilly got up to walk away, but Clarke followed him and punched him several times, causing Mr Reilly to fall and hit his head.

In a separate case, Clarke pleaded guilty at Dundalk District Court in January 2002 to four counts of sexual assault.

The court heard he was of borderline intelligence and in need of psychiatric help.

Clarke got his 'Panther' nickname because he would silently sneak up on women.

He stalked his victims as they walked alone on Drogheda's streets late at night.

He would single them out after they left clubs and follow them home, attacking four women in an eight-week period in 2000.

Torched

Hours after his sexual assault conviction, Clarke's family home was torched by vigilantes.

The property was also attacked when Clarke was released from jail in 2004, when a man smashed all the ground-floor windows.

The last time Clarke made the headlines was in March 2014, when he was shot in the leg by a teenager in Drogheda during a bitter local row.

It is understood that Clarke refused to get off of a wall but was then chased down a laneway and shot in front of several young children.

He made a full recovery from the injury he suffered.

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