Belfast Telegraph

Woman is raped beside sports pitches in early morning attack


Police are investigating the rape of a woman in her 20s in an early-morning attack that has left a rural town in shock.

The serious sexual assault is reported to have happened on Saturday morning between midnight and 2.30am.

The woman claims she was attacked close to sports pitches on the outskirts of Magherafelt, Co Londonderry.

Local SDLP councillor James Campbell said police spent several hours in the area looking for evidence on Saturday.

“It’s open space basically and that’s where I understand it happened,” he said.

“It’s been an awful shock to people in the area and the last thing you would expect in the town. It doesn’t bear thinking about, something like that happening to any girl.”

“Thankfully such events are rare in Magherafelt.”

Mr Campbell appealed for anybody with information on the attack to contact police.

“Hopefully if anybody knows something, they will phone the police.”

Sinn Fein councillor Deborah Ni Shiadhail also urged the local community to share information they may have with police.

“We need such people brought to justice,” she said.

“Crime in the Magherafelt area is very low in general and crimes such as this would be practically unheard of.”

Police appealed to anyone who was in the Leckagh Drive and Meadowbank Road area of the town at the time to contact them.

Detectives at the PSNI Rape Crime Unit can be contacted on 028 2764 9614.

Elsewhere, police are continuing to investigate a sex attack on an elderly care home resident in east Belfast on May 20.

The assault on the woman took place at Orchard House home in the Cherryvalley area.

It is understood PSNI forensic teams were at Orchard House for two days and that uniformed officers have been making house-to-house inquiries in the Cherryvalley area.

On Sunday, May 26, also in east Belfast, a woman in her 40s was raped in the Holywood Arches area.

Belfast Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Rodgers said the prevalence of sex crimes was worrying.

“The courts need to make an example of the culprits,” he said.

“Sex crimes are becoming a regular occurrence, not just in the east of the city but across Belfast and length and breadth of Northern Ireland.”

Sex crime: The facts

There were 1,836 sex crimes reported in the PSNI's 29 District Command Units (DCUs) during the 2011-12 financial year.

In 2012-13, there were 1,948 — and increase of 6.1%.

While there were 92 more sexual assault offences and sexual activity offences rose by 45, the number of rape offences decreased by 20.

Sexual offences have also shown an upwards trend since 2000/01. The figure for 2012/13 is the highest level recorded since 1998/99.

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