Belfast Telegraph

Teen rapist's assault on elderly victim haunted her to dying day

By Paul Higgins

An elderly woman raped by a 15-year-old boy was haunted by the degrading and humiliating attack right up until her death seven months later, a court has heard.

The Co Down teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been jailed for eight years for serious sexual assaults on the pensioner, who never returned to her home in the aftermath.

Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said it was “hard to conceive a greater violation than that endured” by the 76-year-old woman in March 2011.

Reading from a letter written by the victim’s daughter, Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said the effect on the woman, who subsequently died from an illness last October, was devastating.

“The letter sets out in poignant and eloquent terms how an elderly and frail woman of spirit, humour, with a zest for life — and in particular her children and grandchildren — was reduced to a shadow of her former self,” revealed the judge.

Quoting from the letter, he said: “All her spark, determination and character was gone. She was distressed and humiliated by her attack until she died... he snatched the later years of her life destroying my mother's whole being and haunted her right until her death.”

The pensioner had come in from letting out her dog when she was confronted by the boy who grabbed her by the wrist and dragged her to the bedroom where he sexually assaulted her before escaping through the window and climbing over a fence. Judge Miller told Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Belfast: “That an elderly lady should have been attacked and made subject to such a degrading, humiliating and sustained assault within the supposed sanctuary of her own home is horrifying enough. That these despicable crimes were perpetrated by a 15-year-old boy is, frankly, beyond comprehension.”

The boy, who began abusing drink and drugs when he was aged 12 and started having sex when he was 13, was not caught until three months later when he stole a vehicle from which his DNA profile was taken. Police were able to trace him back to the rape.

The judge ordered that once the teenager has served four years behind bars it will be up to the Parole Commissioners whether or not to release him, depending on how they assess his level of risk.

Even then, Judge Miller told him he will be on licence conditions for a further three years.

The judge also ordered him to sign the sex offenders’ register for the rest of his life and put in place a 10-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order which bars him from contact with people over 65.

The now 17-year-old earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of rape and one of sexual assault on March 13 last year. Outside court, his victim's family did not wish to comment.

Background

In court yesterday Judge Miller lifted reporting restrictions on the defendant's identity. However, the restriction remained in place after the defence lodged an application for an emergency judicial review of the decision with the High Court. The Court Service confirmed that the application had been lodged before a 3pm deadline set by the judge.

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