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22/09/2021

Derry man remanded in custody charged with attempted murder and rape of woman in city

Derry courthouse
A 27-years-old Derry man was remanded in custody when he appeared at the city's Magistrate's Court charged with the attempted murder and rape of a woman in the city at the weekend. A PSNI detective told the court the case involving Sean Mark Hegarty, of Balliniska Heights "came close to being a murder." Hegarty was charged with the rape and attempted murder between 6 and 7 APril. He was also charged with causing her grievous bodily harm, attempting to choke the alleged victim, 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. A police officer told the court that at around 2.30am yesterday 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. The court heard police found ligature marks around the woman's neck and her tongue was swollen indicating choking. She also had fractures to her cheek and eyes, a bleed on the brain and other injuries consistent with rape. The was told she told police she had been in the defendant's flat and when police went there theyd 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 heard a cover was removed from a sofa with stains having seeped through to the sponge and police believe it was blood. The alleged injured party told police she was choked "with a white rope." The court heard that during police interviews, Hegarty admitted the woman had been in the property but said she fell. Bail was opposed on the grounds 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 if she looked distressed. The officer said there was but he added she was covered up so it was not possible to say if she was distressed or not. Mr Quigiley 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 also 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.

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