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28/09/2021

Serial rapist loses appeal against sentence for xenophobic attacks on separate women

Serial rapist loses appeal against sentence for xenophobic attacks on separate women

A serial rapist has lost his appeal against his 14-year jail term for the rape and violent assault of two sex workers.

The Court of Appeal found that Noel McKeon’s offences against a Latin American woman and a Romanian woman had a ‘sinister, xenophobic context’.

The 33-year-old former security guard at the Mater Hospital, had carried out the attacks 18 months apart. One of the victims was forced to jump naked from a window to get away from him as he tried to stab her.

The Central Criminal Court heard that the attacks, on June 18, 2016 and on February 2, 2018, took place after McKeon contacted the two women through an “escorts” website.

McKeon, formerly of Orchard Way, Greenwood, Dublin pleaded guilty to sexual assault, assault, robbery and rape of the two women. The father-of-four also admitted false imprisonment of the first victim.

In the first attack, McKeon became aggressive and abusive after the consensual sex. He punched the woman and when she tried to escape out of the flat he slammed her head against the door knob and dragged her by her hair across a floor.

He kicked her in the face and head and then grabbed her throat, making it hard for her to breathe. He then raped her.

The woman managed to get up onto a kitchen counter and climbed out on to a window ledge. McKeon grabbed a knife and tried to stab her ankle but the woman managed to get down onto a dropped roof below and hide.

CCTV footage later viewed by gardaí showed McKeon “calmly and slowly” exiting the flat complex in north Dublin. The alarm was raised when the woman ran out of the flat and into traffic and a taxi driver stopped and took her to Clontarf garda station.

She was bleeding profusely and had bruising all over her body.

On February 4, 2018 McKeon met another sex worker. After they had consensual sex McKeon began to demand sex without a condom and when the woman refused he punched her in the eye with his closed fist.

He pulled her hair out before raping her twice and sexually assaulting her. The woman was screaming for help and he told her “if she didn't stop she knew what would happen”.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt set consecutive headline sentences of ten years for each victim. He said he was giving a four-year discount to take the pleas of guilty into consideration, leaving a 16 year term. He suspended the final two years of this sentence on condition that McKeon engage in sex offender treatment and anger management, specifically around violence towards women.

In her victim impact statement, the first woman, a mother, said she felt powerless during the attack.

The second woman told the court that she still feels a sense of fear for her life.

McKeon’s barrister, Barry White SC, appealed against the severity of his sentence to the Court of Appeal earlier this month.

He argued that ‘a crushing sentence’ had been imposed.

He said that ‘the totality principle’ had been insufficiently applied and that insufficient consideration had been given to his client’s mitigating circumstances.

John Fitzgerald SC responded on behalf of the DPP.

“An effective reduction from 20 years to 16, two of which were suspended, is in the director’s view wholly within the margin of appreciation of the sentencing court,” he said.

He argued that Justice Hunt had reduced the sentence and suspended part of it in order to incentivise rehabilitation.

“This an effective sentence of 14 years for two very serious crimes 18 months apart,” he said. “I don’t think that could ever be considered a crushing sentence.”

Justice Aileen Donnelly, who sat with Justice George Birmingham and Justice John Edwards delivered judgment on Friday.

The court was not satisfied that the sentence was crushing or the principle of proportionality had been broken.

“These were extremely grave offences carried out with considerable violence with an interval of eighteen months between them,” she wrote, noting that he had been questioned by Gardaí in the intervening period.

“The offences had a sinister xenophobic context to them,” she said. “The sentence imposed reflected the gravity of the totality of the offending behaviour and appropriate mitigation.”

They dismissed the appeal.

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