Sunday 23 July 2017

Man tied up, raped woman at convention in busy hotel

Keith Hearne told victim: ‘I could break your neck’
Keith Hearne told victim: ‘I could break your neck’

Isabel Hayes

A man who tied up and raped a woman in a hotel meeting room during a busy gaming convention will be sentenced later this year.

Keith Hearne (28) told the woman: "I could break your neck here and now" before telling her to be a "good girl".

He then bound her hands and raped her. When she screamed he told her he had a knife in his bag and would use it if she wasn't quiet.

His bag containing a prop knife, handcuffs, condoms, a mask and "sadomasochistic" items was later found at the scene, the Central Criminal Court heard.

Hearne, of Allenton Drive, Tallaght, Dublin, pleaded guilty to two counts of rape, one count of oral rape and one count of falsely imprisoning the woman at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Blanchardstown on July 4, 2015.

Garda Lisa Lawler said the woman, now 24, had been volunteering at the ArcadeCon gaming convention that day.

She was in a meeting room when Hearne entered and sat at the back. The woman moved to leave the room but he locked the door. The attack stopped only when another conference worker entered using a hotel key card and gardaí were called.

The woman took the stand and described how she woke up every night crying for months after the attack, "thinking he had come back to finish the job".

"Before this, I wouldn't call myself an angry person," she said. "But now I punch walls, scream and walk out on conversations. I don't know what to do with this anger."

The woman described how she has struggled with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, self-harming and suicidal thoughts since she was raped.

"People see me smiling and laughing. They don't see me curled up under a blanket on my sofa," she said.

She described how she has had numerous piercings and tattoos since the attack "just so I can feel like my body is my own and not something he touched."

"He may go to prison, but I'm already there because of what he did," she said.

Hearne told gardaí he had gone to the convention in the hope of meeting another woman but when she rejected him he became angry.

Defence barrister Michael Bowman SC told the court that Hearne suffers from a bipolar disorder. He had not taken his medication for some time around the time of the attack.

Mr Bowman said his client engaged in "absolute opportunism and exploitation" of his victim and that there was "no excuse" for what he did. However, he has no previous convictions and suffers from a range of conditions, including Aspergers Syndrome, ADHD, dyslexia and bipolar disorder. He is now back on his medication and is "remorseful in the extreme", Mr Bowman said.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy adjourned sentence to June 19 to get further medical reports.

Irish Independent

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