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Rapist who left woman with brain injuries in one of worst cases judge has ever handled jailed for 20 years


Shaun Hegarty was jailed following a hearing at Derry Crown Court

Shaun Hegarty was jailed following a hearing at Derry Crown Court

Shaun Hegarty was jailed following a hearing at Derry Crown Court

A rapist originally from Letterkenny has been jailed for 20 years over what a judge described as one of the worst cases to ever come before his court.

Shaun Hegarty (29) attacked the woman at his flat in Balliniska Heights in Londonderry on April 5, 2019.

The city’s Crown Court heard he had previously been jailed for seven years for raping another woman in February 2010.

Hegarty, who has been assessed as posing a risk to the public, still maintains his innocence.

He claims the "rough sex" he engaged in with his victim, which left her with significant injuries, was consensual.

But the defendant was unanimously found guilty of raping the young woman following a nine-day trial.

He was also found guilty of attempting to choke his victim, of causing her grievous bodily harm with intent and of breaching the terms of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order imposed after the earlier attack.

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Hegarty sexually and physically assaulted his victim during the incident, leaving her with brain and body injuries and fractures to her face.

His victim left his flat after the attack before collapsing nearby.

She was found by two people who called the police and an ambulance.

Detectives later found traces of blood and evidence of an attempted clean-up inside Hegarty's flat.

Prior to the attacks, the victim and the defendant drank alcohol before she passed out.

She awoke to find herself on a mattress on a concrete floor with a rope around her neck.

Hegarty said the sex was consensual and that his victim had hurt herself by walking into a door.

Following his arrest, he described the victim’s injuries as “a wee cut”.

He also told the jury: "I did not inflict any injuries she did not want".

Judge Philip Babington told the court that after Hegarty was released from prison in 2014, he was twice recalled.

He also described the defendant as a gratuitously violent sexual reoffender who had rightly been assessed as dangerous.

"This case, sadly, is one of the very worst cases to come before this court, involving, as it does, a very serious sexual assault which culminated in the victim being raped,” the judge said.

"If it was totally consensual, he would, one presumes, have had the decency to ensure that she was able to get home.

"As it was, she collapsed on a grass banking beside the Northland Road. Fortunately, over time, a number of people stopped and assisted her before summoning the emergency services.

As well as jailing Hegarty for 20 years, Judge Babington placed him on the sex offenders’ register for an indefinite period.

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