Belfast Telegraph

Belfast 'loner' is jailed after he admitted raping a woman he met on a dating site

A north Belfast man who admitted raping a woman he met on a dating website has been jailed
A north Belfast man who admitted raping a woman he met on a dating website has been jailed

By Ashleigh McDonald

A north Belfast man who admitted raping a woman he met on a dating website has been jailed.

Graham Thompson - whose Vara Drive home was attacked after details of his offending came to light - was told he will spend half the three-year and nine-month sentence in prison, with the remainder on supervised licence when he is released.

Judge Neil Rafferty QC told the 38-year-old that his actions in December 2017 have had a significant impact on the woman he raped.

Thompson admitted carrying out the serious sexual assault on the woman on a date between December 1 and 24, 2017.

Belfast Crown Court heard Thompson met the woman on a "dating website" and that in December 2017 he invited her back to his house.

Prosecution counsel Charles MacCreanor QC said the victim did not intend to stay at Thompson's home that evening and only wanted a cup of tea or coffee.

"The defendant started getting amorous in the kitchen but she said she was tired and didn't feel like doing anything," he said.

"He tried to kiss her and she to him 'Stop, I am not really up for it tonight. I am tired.'"

As the woman walked from the kitchen into the living room, she tripped on the strap of her bag and fell onto the settee. At this point Thompson tried to touch her, but despite her pleas for him to stop, he didn't and then raped her.

The victim later told a clergyman about what had happened along with two friends and she subsequently made a statement to police about the rape.

At interview, Thompson denied all the allegations - but he later admitted his guilt and was sentenced yesterday.

As well as being jailed, Thompson was also made the subject of a 10-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

Defence counsel Neil Connor QC said that by his guilty plea, Thompson was showing remorse for his offending which had also saved the victim the trauma of having to give evidence at his trial.

It emerged that Thompson was rendered homeless after his home was attacked by vigilantes. He also told a probation officer he was a "loner" who only felt comfortable in the company of people from his church.

Sending Thompson to jail, Judge Rafferty said that after reading a victim impact statement, he felt it was "absolutely clear that she has sustained a significant mental consequence" as a result of his actions.

Thompson will also be subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for 10 years.

Detective Constable Jennifer Stevenson said: "Rape is one of the most serious crimes and I welcome the fact that this offender is now behind bars.

"The woman involved showed great courage in her resolution to bring Thompson to justice and I hope that his conviction will encourage anyone else who has experienced any form of sexual abuse to come forward to police.

"Our officers in PSNI's Public Protection Branch are committed to investigating all reports of sexual assault and we seek to place offenders before the courts so they can be made amenable for their crimes."

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