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'Bungling' gardai under fire as killer rapist jailed

The gardai have been accused of bungling and incompetence after a serial sex offender from Longford was jailed for 20 years for the rape and murder of a mother of three in Scotland.

Gardai failed to seek a European arrest warrant for Patrick Rae when he failed to turn up in court in 2008 to answer charges relating to a serious sexual assault.

In 1997, Rae was convicted and jailed after raping a woman in Longford. In 2003 he was convicted of possession of a knife and threatening behaviour; then, in April 2008, Rae was arrested, questioned and then charged with sexual assault and assault causing harm to a woman at the Links Station in Portmarnock.

Rae was sent forward for trial in Dublin in May 2008 but failed to appear in court in November of that year.

A bench warrant was issued for his arrest in this jurisdiction but crucially no European-wide arrest warrant was sought -- even though it was believed that he had fled the country. Rae went to Scotland and was picked up and questioned by Scottish police up to 10 times in the following months for various minor offences -- but police in Scotland had no way of knowing that he was wanted in Ireland or that he was a convicted sex offender.

On Friday last, Rae was jailed for 20 years for the rape and murder on February 25 last year of 34-year-old mother Mary McClaren, who he met in a Dundee nightclub after asking her to dance.

The court was told that Rae and Ms McClaren left the nightclub and that he had later dragged her into undergrowth, savagely raped her and strangled her before covering her body with ivy.

After her remains were found two weeks later, CCTV footage of her walking with Rae linked him to the crime. Forensic evidence was also produced which linked certain pollen spores and grains that were found on Rae's shoes to the crime scene.

Rae insisted in evidence that he had consensual sex with McClaren and that she had later disappeared, but the court rejected his claims.

A senior Scottish police source told the Scottish Daily Record: "There's no doubt if a European warrant had been issued, Mary McLaren would still be alive. But we had no idea how dangerous he was."

In court, judge Lord Tyre told Rae as he sentenced him to 20 years in jail: "The horror and terror Mary McLaren must have experienced during this murderous attack can only be imagined."

Sunday Independent