Derry man on attempted murder and rape charges

A woman found in a distressed state on Derry’s Northland Road during the early hours of last Sunday following a ‘999’ call, alleged she had been drugged and raped, Derry Magistrate’s Court has heard.

Tuesday, 9th April 2019, 11:41 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th April 2019, 11:42 am
The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

Police found ligature marks around the woman’s neck and her tongue was swollen indicating choking.

She also had sustained fractures to her cheek and eyes, a bleed on the brain and other injuries consistent with rape.

An investigating detective told the court that a local man, charged with rape and attempted murder, ‘came close to being a murder charge.’

Appearing in the dock was Shaun Mark Anthony Hegarty (27), of Balliniska Heights, in Derry, who faces seven charges relating to an incident on April 6 or 7.

Hegarty was charged with the rape and attempted murder of a woman between those dates.

He was also charged with causing her grievous bodily harm; attempting to choke her; of administering a substance to her with sexual intent; perverting the course of justice and being in breach of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order, by having a relationship with a female without notifying her of previous convictions.

The police officer connected Hegarty to the offences and opposed bail.

He told the court that around 2.30 a.m. on Sunday, police received a ‘999’ call from a member of the public who had found a ‘distressed female’ in the Northland Road area who alleged she had been raped and drugged.

She told police she had been in the defendant’s flat and so police visited the flat and found Hegarty just out of the shower. The officer said there was evidence ‘of a deep clean-up’ with bleach and wipes being found.

The court was also told that a cover was removed from a sofa with stains having seeped through to the sponge and police believe it was blood. The alleged victim told police she was choked ‘with a white rope.’

At interview Hegarty admitted the woman had been there but said she fell.

Bail was opposed on the grounds that there was ‘significant risk of re-offending’ as Hegarty had been convicted of rape in 2010 in what the officer said were ‘similar circumstances.’

He told the court Hegarty had come to police attention for various offences and was currently on bail for a burglary charge. The officer also said there were’ various credible threats’ against the defendant and there would be fears for his safety.

Defence solicitor, Seamus Quigley, asked was there CCTV showing the woman leaving Hegarty’s flat and she did not look distressed?

The officer answered there was but he added she was covered up so it was not possible to say if she was distressed or not.

The solicitor also asked was there a time lapse between her leaving the flat and being found and was told there was about an hour. However, the officer said bloodstained clothing had been found in the flat believed to have come from the alleged injured party.

Mr. Quigley said the defendant had ‘made his case’ and it could be a year or more before the truth or otherwise of that case would be established.

The police officer said the woman also believed she had been drugged.

District Judge Barney McElholm said: “Suffice to say I do not consider this man to come anywhere near a suitable candidate for bail.”

He said there was a clear risk of re-offending and interference with witnesses and remanded Hegarty in custody to appear again on April 16.