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Northern Ireland man (26) originally bailed on rape charges held after forensic sample results

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A 26-year-old man has appeared in court charged with raping a female in Omagh twice last year

A 26-year-old man has appeared in court charged with raping a female in Omagh twice last year

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A 26-year-old man has appeared in court charged with raping a female in Omagh twice last year

A 26-year-old man has appeared in court charged with raping a female in Omagh twice last year.

While arrested in the immediate aftermath, police released him on bail after he made firm denials during questioning and to await DNA sample results - which he was adamant would not link him to the incident.

It also emerged that while on bail for what police described as "very serious matters" the accused did not have an address and was living in a tent, which hampered efforts to contact him.

Robert Murphy, whose last address was Camowen Cottages, Omagh, is accused of committing the alleged offences on November 15 and 16, 2019.

A detective constable told Dungannon Magistrates Court the charges could be connected to the defendant.

Objecting to bail, she explained after the complainant reported the matter to police an ABE (Achieving Best Evidence) interview was conducted.

Murphy was arrested and denied any sexual activity took place. He willingly provided DNA samples, insisting these would show he was not connected to the incident.

Police released him on bail with conditions, which included no contact with the complainant and a ban on being in a particular area of Omagh.

Earlier this week, the DNA samples confirmed a match and when this was put to Murphy, he changed his position, claiming the sexual activity was consensual, before reverting to "no comment" replies.

The detective said: "These are very serious matters and police have concerns the defendant may abscond as he faces a lengthy prison sentence if convicted.

"He has failed to comply with conditions to stay out of an area and a particular house, where he was found despite the occupants not wanting him there.

"He agreed to leave and when asked where he could be located, claimed in a tent, therefore of no fixed abode.

"Obviously, this was not appropriate for contacting him or for his own safety."

She highlighted instances when contact was difficult. While Murphy provided a phone number it stopped receiving calls. On another occasion, when the detective was trying to locate him, she sent a police crew to check for a tent in a specified area of Omagh.

Under cross-examination, the defence enquired why, given police deemed the matter serious, his client was released on bail in the first place.

The detective said Murphy was very definite in his denials, particularly in respect of DNA, and as this was to be forensically examined, bail was appropriate.

The defence asked why bail was allowed again despite the alleged breach when Murphy was found at the prohibited area.

"I gave him the benefit of the doubt," said the detective. "I didn't take any action, although I warned him."

When the defence enquired if forensics were conducted of the alleged scene, the detective replied: "Examinations were carried out, but not submitted."

District Judge Michael Ranaghan asked: "So forensics went to the trouble of carrying out examinations which weren't used?"

The detective responded: "We feel we have more than enough evidence at this time, with the DNA and the defendant's change from his original interview."

The defence, who accompanied Murphy during police interview, pointed out when he enquired if the area had been forensically examined police told him they "would not be providing an answer, as that was a matter for trial". He suggested bail could be granted and while accepting Murphy lives "a chaotic, nomadic lifestyle", this was known by police who saw for to release him before.

But Judge Ranaghan refused, stating: "The defendant has been less than fully compliant."

Murphy will appear again by video-link next month.

Belfast Telegraph