Wednesday 13 November 2019

Bench warrant issued for teenager who raped US tourist in Belfast

A BENCH warrant has been issued by a court in Dublin for the arrest of a convicted rapist who fled from the North and failed to inform gardai that he had entered the State.

Edward Connors (19), who twice raped an American tourist in Belfast four years ago, was charged at Dublin District Court on July 26 last with failing to notify the authorities of his name, address and date of birth contrary to the Sex Offenders Act 2001.

On July 25 last, he had been arrested at Labre Park, in west Dublin, where he had been staying with one of his aunts and he made no reply when cautioned. He had consented to being remanded in custody on July 26 but successfully applied for bail when he appeared at Cloverhill District Court six days later.

At that hearing, Garda Dave Connolly had objected to bail saying he believed that the youth “would be a flight risk” and did “not normally reside in this country”.

He had told the court that “on seeing gardai he tried to make good his escape” but was arrested after a 600-metre foot-chase. Gda Connolly had also said the teenager had no identification documents and a bench warrant had already been issued for his arrest by a court in Northern Ireland.

The garda had informed the court that the prosecution service in the North intended to get a European Arrest Warrant issued for Connors.

However, Judge John Lindsay granted bail with a number of conditions. Connors was ordered to: reside at a house in Labre Park, obey a curfew there from 10PM to 7AM, sign on twice daily at Ballyfermot Garda station and provide confirmation that he made contact with the PSNI station at Grosvenor Road, in Belfast within 14 days.

The judge had also said Connors would not be able to leave Dublin city or county “other than to attend appointments with members of the PSNI” and would have to give gardai 48 hours' notice.

Connors had indicated that he understood these terms and he was warned that his bail would be revoked if he broke any of the bail conditions. He was then released and ordered to appear again yesterday (WED) at Cloverhill District Court.

However, when his case was called defence solicitor Kelly Breen said she had not seen her client adding, “he is not here”. A Garda Sergeant also said Connors “has not been complying with any of his bail conditions”.

Judge Lindsay issued a bench warrant for Connors' arrest.

Cloverhill District Court had already heard that he had served a sentence in the North for offences committed when he was aged 15, and a warrant issued by the courts there was a result of him breaching terms of probation.

Ms Breen had said earlier that Connors had little experience of the consequences of what would occur if he failed to comply with the conditions of his probation and “it was extremely foolish with very serious repercussions”.

The youth has been on the run from police in the North after failing to attend a hearing at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on July 16 to face a charge of breaching one of his probation conditions by failing to complete a programme of work to address his sexual offending.

He was aged 15 when he twice raped a 29-year-old woman – an American tourist – in Colin Glen forest in west Belfast four years ago. Afterwards he fled to Dublin but later gave himself up. In 2009, he was jailed for eight years; he had spent a year in custody on remand prior to his trial and was released from custody earlier this year after serving four years.

Under Irish law he had seven days to notify gardai that he had entered the jurisdiction and to give a permanent address.

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