Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

DNA ‘links’ man to sex attacks

DNA evidence has linked an alleged rapist to sex attacks on three different women stretching back nearly a decade, the High Court has heard.

The victims were all dragged into alleyways in Newry and Warrenpoint, Co Down, and assaulted between 2002 and 2006, according to the prosecution.

One of them, aged 18, was blindfolded and warned she would be scarred so badly her own family would not recognise her if she told anyone.

Sean Heaton (46), of John Martin Street, Newry, is charged with two counts of rape, false imprisonment, and two counts of attempted rape. He was refused bail due to the risk of any further offences being committed.

Crown counsel Fiona O'Kane said charges were brought after his DNA was taken in connection with an unrelated domestic incident. She told the court the first attack happened close to Heaton's home on January 13, 2002.

The teenage victim was pulled into an alleyway, blindfolded, had her hands bound behind her back and subjected to a prolonged sexual assault, it was claimed. Mrs O'Kane alleged that Heaton's DNA was matched to samples found on the woman's underpants.

Two years later, on April 11, 2004, a 21-year-old woman was attacked and dragged into the same laneway. She had a hat pulled over her face, the court heard.

It was alleged that her ordeal only ended when she managed to convince her attacker that she was only 16 and still a virgin.

Mrs O'Kane claimed the same method was used in both assaults, which were carried out within metres of each other.

Charges against Heaton also involve a third alleged attack close to his mother's home in the Mourne Drive area of Warrenpoint on August 27, 2006.

A 42-year-old woman was grabbed from behind and dragged into an alleyway by a man wearing a balaclava and latex gloves.

She fought back and managed to pull a glove off her assailant.

A DNA link to Heaton has again allegedly been established, the court was told.

Opposing bail, Mrs O'Kane claimed each incident involved the same behaviour and violence.

Bobbie Rea, defending, said his client unequivocally denied any involvement. He argued that Heaton's DNA could have been found at the scenes due to him either living or visiting so close-by.

Refusing bail, Mr Justice Hart ruled that there was a prima facie case against the accused.

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