30-year-old was released by gardai just hours before attack
THE rapist who targeted two young children in an attack that horrified the country was released from garda custody just hours before the incident.
The 30-year-old had been held overnight in a garda station after he was arrested for public order offences.
Three days earlier he had walked free from Castlerea Prison where he had been serving a five-month sentence for assault.
He was out on early release because of good behaviour while in jail, the Irish Independent understands.
He arrived in a midlands town two days after leaving prison and became involved in an incident that night, resulting in his arrest for public order offences.
He was heavily intoxicated and spent the night in the garda station before being released the following morning.
After leaving garda custody, he roamed the town, casing houses in the hours before the vicious assault, attempting to gain access to homes.
In one instance he targeted an elderly woman living alone. He only left her doorway when he discovered she had a visitor in the house. The rapist has a previous conviction for assaulting a pensioner.
The son of the elderly woman said he feared his mother could have been another victim had she not had company.
"They have him on cameras all around the town. He was up and down the area and knocked on every door in that area.
"He called to my mother who is 72 years of age. She was chatting away to him, he was looking for a lighter for his cigarette. Luckily for her she had somebody visiting her and when he knew that he moved on immediately.
"There's no telling what might have happened her if she had been on her own," he said.
Hours later, he went on to lure the two little girls, who had been attending a party, into a house where he raped the nine-year-old girl three times and the six-year-old twice. Two other men were squatting in the house.
"The place was in a filthy condition. The house is still the same as it was that day. It was just locked up and left as it was. The poor owners can't even bring themselves to go into it," said one local.
As a search for the missing girls was launched, one resident spotted the 30-year-old attacker not too far from the house and he was arrested initially on public order offences.
He was again held overnight in the garda station and taken before a specially convened sitting of the district court the next morning.
After being charged before the court, he was released on bail and was immediately re-arrested outside the courthouse on suspicion of being involved in the rape of the girls.