Belfast Telegraph

Derry man 'drugged, raped and tried to kill woman', court hears

Shaun Hegarty appeared before Belfast High Court on Friday
Shaun Hegarty appeared before Belfast High Court on Friday

By Alan Erwin

A man allegedly raped and tried to kill a woman after injecting her with a substance, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors also claimed police discovered signs of an attempted "clean-up operation" at 27-year-old Shaun Hegarty's flat in Londonderry.

Hegarty, of Balliniska Heights in the city, is accused of tying a rope round the woman's neck and carrying out a sex attack last weekend.

His failed application for bail was delayed briefly amid allegations that he had just been assaulted in custody by another inmate.

Hegarty denies charges of raping and attempting to murder her, causing grievous bodily harm, attempted choking, administering a substance with sexual intent, perverting the course of justice and breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

He insists the pair only engaged in fully consensual sex.

The court heard the woman was found in a distressed state on Londonderry's Northland Road in the early hours of April 7.

Crown lawyer Robin Steer disclosed that she had sustained fractures to her cheekbone and eye socket, as well as a suspected bleed on the brain.

The woman alleged Hegarty had put a rope round her neck, injected her with something and raped her at his flat.

When officers forced their way into the accused's home he appeared to be just out of the shower, according to the prosecution.

A sofa cushion found in the bathroom was discovered in the bath, with Mr Steer contending efforts had been made to wash stains out of it.

"There were also other signs of blood, and that there had been an attempted clean-up operation," he said.

"Bleach and cleaning agents were found in the flat."

During interviews Hegarty denied harming the woman in any way.

He claimed they began kissing while at the flat drinking together, before going on to have consensual sex.

The accused told police that at some point she had banged her head off the bathroom door, with blood dripping from around her eye.

When the woman announced she was leaving Hegarty raised no objections, according to his case.

Defence barrister Sean Doherty argued that police had "jumped to conclusions" based on the account provided by a complainant with a serious drug problem.

"On her first account she made the allegation the defendant had prostituted her from the flat, that over the course of the evening various men had come there," he said.

"That is transparently false - police have examined the CCTV and there's no evidence at all of any persons coming or going."

Counsel also disputed claims that the woman was given any substance to stupefy or overpower her. 

"She initially made the case this was injected into her tongue, but no needles or drugs were found," Mr Doherty continued.

"By her own account she had drunk a half bottle of vodka. The idea that a substance was administered is complete fantasy, it casts a shadow over the entire case."

Judge Stephen Fowler QC was told Hegarty claims the pair were on good terms when the woman left Hegarty's home wearing a pair of his tracksuit bottoms.

Refusing bail, however, Mr Fowler ruled: "My view is there's a serious risk of further offences."

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