Friday 18 October 2019

Rapist Keith Hearne fails in bid to have 12 year sentence reduced

Rapist Keith Hearne appealed the severity of his jail term
Rapist Keith Hearne appealed the severity of his jail term
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

Convicted rapist Keith Hearne has failed in his Court of Appeal bid to reduce the 12 year sentence he was given for his attack on a young woman at a Dublin hotel.

In 2017 Hearne (30) of Allenton Drive, Tallaght, Dublin pleaded guilty to two counts of rape, one count of oral rape and one count of falsely imprisoning Dominique Meehan at a convention in the Crowne Plaza hotel in Blanchardstown on July 4 2015.

During his sentencing hearing in 2017 the court heard how he locked the door of a conference room in the hotel where he had cornered Dominique, bound her hands with his tie 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.

Dominique Meehan waived her right to anonymity so attacker Keith Hearne could be named
Dominique Meehan waived her right to anonymity so attacker Keith Hearne could be named

His bag, containing a "rape kit" of a prop knife, handcuffs, condoms, a mask and "sado-masochistic" items, was later found at the scene, the Central Criminal Court heard.

Dominique was only saved when another person forced their way into the room when they heard the disturbance inside.

She waived her right to anonymity after Hearne was convicted so that he could be named in public.

Hearne, now known as Prisoner 107512, is serving his time in the Midlands Prison.

He was sentenced to 12 years in prison by Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy in 2017.

At the time the judge said it was difficult to express the horror and seriousness of the offence.

He said Hearne carried out “a series of extremely violent sexual offences in circumstances which consisted of her false imprisonment over a period of time”.

The judge said Hearne’s only mitigating factor was his plea of guilty.

Hearne lodged an appeal to the severity of the sentence, and at a sitting of the court of appeal last month his lawyer argued that his mental state and the fact that he had no previous convictions should also have been taken into consideration.

Barrister Roderick O’Hanlon said a report on Hearne’s mental health had been submitted to the trial.

“At age seven he had come to the attention of a senior clinical psychologist, an occupational therapist in 1998, an educational psychology report in 2002, a letter from a consultant child and adolescents psychiatrist in 2004, and he was in St Patrick’s Hospital in 2004 where he was detained for approximately a week,” he said.

Mr O’Hanlon said the sentencing judge had disregarded the psychiatric history of Hearne.

“I accept that the judge was correct in holding that he was criminally responsible for the offending on the day in question but the assessment concluded he was suffering from a mental illness,” he added.

“He (Hearne) is criminally responsible but the judge still had to consider him as someone with a mental illness, a personal disorder, and no previous convictions,” he explained.

But counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, who opposed Hearne’s appeal that his sentence was too severe, argued that the severity of the crime warranted the headline 15 year sentence open to the judge, and that the reduction of the sentence to 12 years was a sufficient reflection of the guilty plea.

Barrister Anne-Marie Lawlor said the gravity of the false imprisonment and rape was “heinous and horrific” and “the depths of depravity”, causing the victim extreme pain.

She said that at one point Hearne had licked Ms Meehan’s cheek and said that “any girl would love this”.

Ms Lawlor also said that the doctor who submitted the report into Hearne’s mental health into evidence had said there was “no causative link” between Hearne’s mental health and the offence.

She also argued that there are cases where people committing their first offence receive long sentences, and that the sentence handed down to Hearne was appropriate.

The three-judge Court of Appeal today ruled that Hearne’s 12 year sentence was merited.

While the appeal court said the trial judge had fallen into error in not taking into account that Hearne had no previous convictions, and that he had not considered how Hearne’s mental state could impact on his capacity to serve his sentence, it said it was satisfied that the judge gave  a significant reduction from 15 years to 12 years for the mitigating factor of the guilty plea.

“In the final analysis, we are satisfied that whilst the judge fell into error, this did not result in an error of substance. The offending conduct on the part of the appellant was of a most serious character and even taking the mitigating elements into account we are satisfied that the conduct merited a sentence of 12 years’ imprisonment,” said Judge Isobel Kennedy.

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