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Mum's fury after bogus gay rape claim Newry man Kearns avoids prison

By Michael Donnelly

A mother has said a man who falsely accused her son of rape has been given "the go-ahead to do the exact same again" after he avoided jail.

In the first case of its kind here, a 24-year-old Co Down man who claimed he was the victim of a gay rape has walked free from court after admitting he wasted police time with his bogus allegation of sexual assault.

Judge Paul Ramsey QC told Newry man Gary Kearns that if it was not for his admission to perverting the course of justice, as well as psychiatric and other reports, he would have jailed him for 18 months. Instead, the Newry Crown Court judge told Kearns, from Barcroft Park, he was prepared to reduce his sentence to 12 months, and suspended it for two years.

Although Judge Ramsey paid tribute to the victim's mother for her "articulate and moving" letter setting out the effect of the claims on her vulnerable, naive son, she attacked the sentence as being too lenient.

"No, I am not happy with it, no no," she said. "That's giving him the go-ahead to do the exact same again. It was just a slap on the wrist for him, but as my son has said, he is still living a jail sentence every day because of him, every day."

Judges are bound by sentencing guidelines and must take into account mitigating circumstances, such as early guilty pleas, co-operation with police and remorse, as well as aggravating factors, such as intent and excessive violence.

Judge Ramsey said by his guilty plea to the "wholly false and wicked allegation" that had caused his victim "great distress and upset", Kearns had also removed "the shadow of this allegation hanging over" his victim.

The judge said it was "now clear" to everyone the allegations Kearns had made were "without foundation" and would be forever known in the community for the rest of his days for doing so, while his victim would be known as being "subject to a false and wicked allegation".

Prosecution lawyer Stephen McCourt told a previous hearing that in October 2014 Kearns claimed he was the victim of a rape, and named his alleged attacker. Over the coming months Kearns not only broadcast the news locally, but maintained when asked by police that "the allegation was true and he wanted to proceed with the complaint".

Mr McCourt said it was only after Kearns was told that he was to be charged that he came clean, admitting "he had lied about the allegation of rape". He added that Kearns' victim continued to suffer from extreme depression.

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