Belfast Telegraph

Community worker accused of rape has charge withdrawn

By Alan Erwin

A Loyalist community worker accused of raping a woman who later took her own life has had the charge against him withdrawn, it has emerged.

The decision to bring an end to current criminal proceedings against David McConnell was made on a without prejudice basis.

It means the case could still be brought back to court at a later stage. McConnell (35) with an address at Victoria Road in the Sydenham area of east Belfast, had been charged with carrying out a rape in the city last June.

The alleged victim took her own life days later, police told a court hearing.

McConnell was at first granted anonymity by the courts, amid a series of death threats from loyalist paramilitaries.

A sympathy card was delivered to his home and a further threat message was delivered through the Samaritans charity.

Those reporting restrictions were later lifted on the basis that those intent on harming him already knew his identity.

His lawyers returned to the High Court seeking an amendment to his bail terms that would allow him to stay at another, undisclosed location when necessary, because of the threat against him. McConnell was also granted permission to vary his bail arrangements after a court heard his life may be in danger.

It has now been confirmed, however, that he is currently no longer facing criminal proceedings over the alleged rape.

The charge was withdrawn at Belfast Magistrates Court last week.

BACKGROUND

David McConnell has been in the headlines previously. He was removed from an office he worked from in a community centre in east Belfast in 2010. Belfast City Council ordered him to leave his office based in the Inverary Community Centre after allegations about him surfaced in the media. The centre office was used by him to run the George Best Community Cup – a cross-border/community initiative which brought over 600 children together to compete in a football tournament – and to develop the Sydenham Community Development Agency.

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