Belfast Telegraph

Rapist back in jail after breaching licence

By Ashleigh McDonald

A convicted rapist has had his licence suspended and is back behind bars after a court was told how he has been "under the influence of substances every day" since his release last month.

Joseph McCabe lost his place at Dismas Hostel on the Ormeau Road after breaching the terms of his licence for a sixth time.

The 33-year old west Belfast man was handed a 14-year jail term in 2006 for the rape of a pensioner.

He served half the sentence and was released from custody in May 2013, but went on the run after breaching the terms of his licence. Following a manhunt which spanned Ireland, McCabe handed himself in.

These actions resulted in his licence being suspended for a year and he was returned to custody.

He was back in court yesterday and subsequently had a further year's suspension on his licence after it emerged he had been under the influence every day since his last release on February 17 this year.

Setting out the terms of the breach to Judge Geoffrey Miller QC, prosecutor Simon Jenkins revealed that on March 7 the Probation Board were informed that McCabe's hostel place had been withdrawn as he had been "under the influence of substances every day since his release".

Pointing out this was McCabe's sixth breach, Mr Jenkins said that the licence period of McCabe's sentence was not due to expire until February 2020.

Mr Jenkins requested that due to this breach, McCabe's licence should once again be suspended, as it has been following each breach. This, he said, was in a bid to protect the public - and especially vulnerable women - from a potential risk imposed by the convicted sex offender.

A probation officer told Belfast Crown Court that while McCabe had been attending some appointments when he was out on licence, the main issue is drink and drugs.

A solicitor acting on McCabe's behalf said that just before being released from custody last month, he took a "considerable amount of drugs before he left prison, which may account for his behaviour upon his release".

He told the court that McCabe denies he was under the influence every day, but accepted he had breached conditions of his licence for a sixth time.

The solicitor branded his client "institutionalised" and spoke of a "vicious circle" whereby McCabe is released on licence, breaches the terms of the licence and is returned to custody.

Warning McCabe that he was travelling a path towards oblivion, Judge Miller suspended his licence for a year, and urged him to engage with programmes available within prison to help him address his issues, and engage with probation on his release.

Returning McCabe to custody, Judge Miller told him: "You have to take some control of your life, otherwise the prospects for you are, unfortunately, very bleak."

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