Monday 21 May 2018

'If my friend hadn’t burst in... I don’t think I would have lived' - Woman raped at gaming convention

Dominique Meehan has said she didn't realise what was happening when Keith Hearne locked her in a room, she thought it was a "sick joke" at first

Dominique Meehan with her father William after her attacker, Keith Hearne, was sentenced to 12 years in jail at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin. Photo: Damien Eagers
Dominique Meehan with her father William after her attacker, Keith Hearne, was sentenced to 12 years in jail at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin. Photo: Damien Eagers
Victim Dominique Meehan speaking outside the Central Criminal Court on Monday. Inset Keith Hearne Photo: Collins
Rapist Keith Hearne: Was sentenced over horror attack. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Dominique Meehan who was raped at a gaming convention in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Blanchardstown Picture: Tony Gavin

Daniel O'Connor and Andrew Phelan

A woman who was violently raped by a man at a gaming convention has said she believes she would have been murdered by her attacker had her friend not interrupted.

Keith Hearne (28) was found guilty yesterday of raping Dominique Meehan (24) at a gaming convention at a Dublin hotel in July 2015.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Dominique Meehan spoke about how she had no idea what was happening at first when Hearne first locked her in a room.

“I thought it was a sick joke at first. I thought he was messing with me but eventually I realised what was happening,” Ms Meehan told Newstalk Breakfast.

Rapist Keith Hearne: Was sentenced over horror attack. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Rapist Keith Hearne: Was sentenced over horror attack. Photo: Justin Farrelly

The court heard during Hearne’s trial that he had brought a ‘rape kit’ containing a prop knife, condoms and handcuffs, also telling his victim that he could break her neck.

“He told me not to move, not to scream. I had to give up at that point," she said.

Ms Meehan described how she was locked in a room, pinned down after several attempts of trying get back to her feet, and was threatened with a knife by Keith Hearne.

She said she believes the event lasted for between 20-30 minutes, and that she felt she would have been killed before her friend broke in to the room.

“If my friend hadn’t burst in on what was going on, I don’t think I would have lived. I think he would have genuinely murdered me right there and then.”

Yesterday, Hearne was given a 12 year prison sentence by Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy at the Central Criminal Court yesterday, resulting in applause from Ms Meehan and her supporters.

Dominique Meehan who was raped at a gaming convention in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Blanchardstown Picture: Tony Gavin
Dominique Meehan who was raped at a gaming convention in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Blanchardstown Picture: Tony Gavin

However, Ms Meehan has insisted that she believes this sentence is not long enough.

“I was ecstatic that this monster is going away for 12 years,” Ms Meehan said. “To be frank though, it’s not a long time.”

“It’s just over a decade. He is going to be out on the streets again within 12 years. It’s not a lot of time.”

“A rape can carry the maximum sentence of life and in my opinion that’s what he should have been given… I don’t think he should be ever out on the streets again.”

In his sentencing yesterday, Judge McCarthy noted that 15 years was an appropriate starting point, with the accused’s guilty plea being the only mitigating factor in his sentencing.

Ms Meehan also spoke about the difficulty of describing her life now and how she feels, noting that she had to move back in with her parents after the attack occurred.

“I was suicidal, I was self-harming. Eventually I had to spend a week in a psychiatric ward in Letterkenny,” she said.

“I’m on constant alert always. I had to learn again with dealing with men I didn’t know again.”

Hearne was known by members of the tight-knit Irish gaming community as an odd character; one of the reasons that led Dominique Meehan to waive her right to anonymity and come out publicly.

“The same 2,000 people go to conventions like this around the country. You see the same people all the time and Keith Hearne was one of these people,” Ms Meehan explained.

“People needed to know how evil this person was, how dangerous he is and that’s my main reason for coming forward.”

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