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GET FOLEY OUT
Tuesday, February 13, 2001
Father convicted of raping woman aged 91
Father convicted of raping woman aged 91 THE brutal rapist of a 91-year-old woman was today waiting to be sentenced after he was convicted of the attack.
The 41-year-old father of three, Eamon Foley, who sacked his defence team after his unanimous conviction, lunged at camera men outside the Enniskillen court yesterday following his conviction.
Foley, of Dreenan Road, in Castlederg, showed no emotion as the jury of eight men and four women convicted him of raping spinster Mary-Anne McLaughlin two years ago.
She was found by neighbours on January 15, 1999, lying in her blood soaked bed in her isolated mobile home just a mile and a half from Foley's house.
In response to a question about her from trial judge Mr Justice Higgins, a prosecuting lawyer told him that unfortunately the frail pensioner died several weeks later.
But he said that after consultations between the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Deputy State Pathologist, no provable causal link could be made between Foley's brutal attack and Miss McLaughlin's death which could have been brought before any court.
However relatives of the pensioner are "absolutely" convinced Foley's attack contributed to her death.
Jean MacCafferty, a niece of the pensioner said the family had no "doubt about it, absolutely no doubt about it".
She said that, while the family were glad "justice had been done", they hoped that Foley, who has shown "no remorse" is sentenced to life.
During his week long trial in Omagh Crown Court, the prosecution claimed that a drunken Foley raped the frail, defenceless pensioner after being snubbed by a Co Donegal woman. The court, sitting in Enniskillen, heard that following a night's drinking in a bar in Ramelton, Donegal, Foley followed the woman home, thinking he was to be invited in, only to be told her husband was in the house.
Following the rape, Foley drove to Belfast to stay with a friend to "lay low", according to the prosecution.
After his return to Castlederg, Foley fled to Donegal Town before returning several months later, only to be arrested in October 1999.
Foley always maintained that he was innocent of the rape, but the court heard that a DNA sample recovered from the scene provided a one in a billion match with samples taken from him.
Foley was one of 600 males aged beetween 17 and 70 from the Castlederg/Donegal border area who provided DNA samples during the massive police hunt for Miss McLaughlin's rapist.
During his trial the prosecution claimed that, if innocent, Foley was the "victim of a terrible coincidence" because it would mean a mysterious Mr X, with the same DNA profile, had committed the rape and not him.
Foley will be sentenced after he appoints new counsel to make a plea of mitigation on his behalf.
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Terrified Gortin residents have arranged an emergency public meeting for Friday night in a bid to have convicted rapist Eamon Foley removed from the area. The meeting will take place in the community centre at 8pm.
Foley (4 , from Castlederg, was released from prison last week after serving just eight years of a 16-year sentence for the brutal rape of 91-year-old Mary Anne McLaughlin. She died several weeks after the attack at her isolated mobile home in Castlederg in January 1999. The judge at Foley's trial noted that, "The assault on Ms McLaughlin hastened her death."
An unrepentant Foley continues to deny the heinous crime. At the court of appeal in March 2005, Lord Chief Justice Kerr described Foley's protestations of innocence as "outlandish" stating the evidence against the rapist had been "overwhelming". Scientific analysis concluded that DNA used to convict Foley had a one billion to one chance of originating from a person other than him.
A police car with two officers is parked permanently at the top of a lane leading to house where Foley is residing at Woodlands Road – a quarter of a mile from Gortin. Another PSNI vehicle stands guard 200 metres away in front of the home of an elderly woman who lives alone.
Liam Mossey proprietor of the Pedlars Rest in the idyllic village, told the UH that local people are "freaked out" by the presence of the high-risk sex offender in the area. Along with other local residents, Mr Mossey said that it is a matter of urgency that the community's voice be heard.
"People are scared," he said. "This is an elderly community and
people are concerned with this man's past. We want him to move on somewhere else. He has to live somewhere but not here. Even if we did see him, we wouldn't know him. All we have seen is the side or the back of his head with his hand over his face. What does he look like? We don't know. If we walked past us now I wouldn't know him. People are very frightened. We don't need this. It is a quiet village and obviously that is why he was sent here."
Rumours that Foley was in a pub and a shop in Gortin on Saturday have been dismissed by the proprietors of the establishments. It has been confirmed however, that an elderly lady who walked to Mass every day is living on her own close to where Foley is staying. She has not walked to the church since he moved in while another pensioner has left her home at the weekend to stay with her son in Omagh.
Margaret McCullagh (52) was among of a group of concerned residents who gathered at the end of Woodland Road on Tuesday afternoon along with the Chairman of Omagh District Council, Bert Wilson. Mrs McCullagh said, "Foley shouldn't be around this area after the harm he has caused. He is a danger to all the public. If he is not wanted in Castlederg he shouldn't be in Gortin and I am sure nobody else will want him wherever he goes next. There are girls walking out of school and everybody is frightened and locking their front doors. It is like we are now the prisoners in our homes."
The principal of Gortin Primary School, Iris Wilson has issued a statement expressing concern for the pupils in her care. It read,"As acting principal my primary concern is for the safety and the well-being of the pupils here at the school. As the designated child protection officer I will be available to advise and support on all matters of safety within the school."
A list of contact numbers for people concerned about their safety has also been put on the noticeboard at St Patrick's Church in Gortin. They include contacts for the police, Vincent de Paul and a Victim Support group.
Despite the reaction to his arrival Eamon Foley has made clear his intention to remain in Gortin.
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Convicted rapist Eamon Foley has sensationally claimed he did not attack the 91-year-old woman he was convicted of raping, adding that he is "not a danger to anyone".0 Replies 272 weeks
Sex fiend Eamon Foley (4 moved into the Co Tyrone village of Gortin earlier this month after being released from prison, where he had served half of a 16-year sentence for the horrific sexual assault on Mary Anne McLaughlin.
She died a month later.
For the first time his face was revealed during an interview last night on UTV's Insight programme.
He claimed he was innocent of the horrendous crime.
"I did not rape Mary Anne McLaughlin," he said.
"I have nothing to say to Mary McLaughlin's family. I never harmed Mary McLaughlin. Sooner or later I'm going to prove this. Mary McLaughlin was not raped by any man."
He also said he was set up.
Foley added that because of the monitoring restrictions he "may as well be back in prison".
"I am not allowed to be out after 11pm at night," he said.
"I'm not allowed out to 7am.
"I can't talk to vulnerable people. Sure, I might as well be in prison."
Foley had pledged to stay in Gortin - despite angering the local community - until he proves his innocence.
However, the programme also said he may have to move after Social Services recently visited his rented home and believe his two-year-old grandson is at risk.
It is understood the toddler cannot stay at night while Foley is in the house.
"Now they are trying to flog me out of here," he said.
"Where can I go?"
It was revealed month that £50,000 a week is being spent by the PSNI to keep watch on a notorious sex offender recently released from prison.
The huge sum was branded "unsustainable" by a member of the Policing Board.
However, Foley insists he does not need protected.
"I don't want the police here," he said. "I don't need police protection."
Foley is a Category Three sex offender, and as such is monitored amid fears he could re-offend.
"I am a danger to nobody in this area.
"Danger to who?"
The cost to already stretched PSNI resources was discussed when Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde met the Policing Board in private session.
The Board said there was no alternative to the operation.
Pressure was mounting on the Government today to immediately scrap Ulster's controversial 50% remission policy after it emerged that a dangerous sex offender who raped a 91-year-old woman is set to walk free.0 Replies 275 weeks
Ten months after former Criminal Justice Minister David Hanson vowed to scrap the risky policy, Castlederg man Eamon Foley (4 is due to be released just six years into a 16-year sentence for brutally raping Mary-Anne McLaughlin, who died just weeks later. He had previously spent two years on remand.
Although police believe that Foley still poses a risk to the public, the authorities are powerless to keep him behind bars due to 50% remission.
Miss McLaughlin's family today said that the 50% remission policy means that justice won in court has been undermined.
Her niece, Jean McCafferty, said: "My aunt had been brutally raped and had died within four weeks of being brutally raped, but we felt justice had been done that he had got the maximum sentence of 16 years.
"Now we read in the papers and get phone calls from the media to say that he is getting out - that's not justice for my aunt, that's not justice for us as a family."
The news has reignited serious concern about the Government's delay in introducing a replacement policy which would ensure that serious sex offenders and violent criminals are kept behind bars until they no longer pose a risk to the public.
In December, following the Belfast Telegraph's Justice For Attracta Campaign which called for the scrapping of 50% remission, Mr Hanson agreed to abolish the policy; however, the Government has yet to publish draft legislation.
Junior Minister Ian Paisley Jnr said the delay was "scandalous" and added that he will contact Secretary of State Shaun Woodward today and demand immediate action.
"It is scandalous that when we have dangerous prisoners, who are not remorseful and where they are clearly identified as a risk to the public, we have to let them out because of our current policy," he said.
"When you look at the risk many of these sex offenders pose and the police resources that are taken up to monitor them, something very radical needs to be done.
"I intend to speak to the Secretary of State this morning about this. This is something he should get to grips with immediately."
The NIO today said that draft legislation for the introduction of indeterminate and extended public protection sentences - which will replace 50% remission - is due to be put out for consultation in the autumn.
However, Chris Smallwoods, from victims group Nexus, said action needs to be taken immediately.
"How many more high-risk sex offenders must walk free? A case like this highlights the urgency for the Executive to get their act together and get the legislation introduced as a matter of priority," he said.
Foley raped Miss McLaughlin, his elderly neighbour, at her isolated mobile home in January 1999. In jail, the 47-year-old has refused to take any sex offenders courses and an assessment panel termed him a high risk offender who presents a danger to any female - child or adult.
Police have been granted an interim order that when he is released he can only live at an approved address, use public transport and have no access to children or vulnerable adults. It is to be renewed in December.
His case bears chilling similarities to that of rapist turned killer Trevor Hamilton, who was released half way through a seven year sentence for rape, even though he had not participated in a sex offender treatment programme and, like Foley, had shown no remorse for his crime.
Within weeks Hamilton murdered retired Strabane pensioner Attracta Harron. Following her murder over 35,000 people signed up to this paper's Justice for Attracta campaign demanding an end to 50% remission.
THE Castlederg man accused of raping spinster Mary-Anne McLaughlin has denied he had fled to Belfast with all the speed he could muster after allegedly raping the 91-year-old two years ago.0 Replies 275 weeks
THE Castlederg man accused of raping spinster Mary-Anne McLaughlin has denied he had fled to Belfast with all the speed he could muster after allegedly raping the 91-year-old two years ago.
Giving evidence at his Omagh Crown Court trial in Enniskillen, 41-year-old father of three Eamon Foley, from Dreenan Road in the Co Tyrone town, maintained he was nowhere near Castlederg the night Ms McLaughlin was brutally raped in her isolated mobile home.
Time and again the mechanic repeated "no" when asked by his defence QC Billy McCrory if he was guilty of the rape or had any involvement in it.
Foley, who sat in the dock twiddling an unfolded paper clip, maintained that in the early hours of January 15, 1999, when Ms McLaughlin was raped, he had driven straight to Belfast from Ramelton in Co Donegal after the husband of a woman he hoped to see turned up unexpectedly.
Earlier, Foley's police statements were read to the court in which detectives asked him to explain how DNA samples taken from him matched those recovered from the frail pensioner who lived alone in Cavan Road on the outskirts of Castlederg.
Foley, while continually denying any involvement in the rape, could not explain the match, but in turn he accused the police of trying to set him up.
At one stage Foley suggested detectives were trying to get him to confess, "to get me to cover up your stitch-up".
Later, while under cross-examination from prosecution QC Patrick Lynch, Foley accepted it was unlikely police and forensic experts had conspired against him, but went on however to claim that "anything is possible".
During his six police interviews taken over three days following his arrest in October 1999, Foley continually denied raping Ms McLaughlin, telling detectives: "I am denying it yes, a hundred per cent."
When told that given the DNA evidence against him, which the court heard provided a match of one in a billion, police suspected him of being the rapist, Foley told them: "That's OK, but I didn't do it."
Police, who accused Foley of "being in denial", also told him that his was the only DNA sample out of 600 taken from males in Castlederg and in Co Donegal which matched samples taken from Ms McLaughlin.
Rejecting the results, Foley is alleged to have told detectives: "Now you have me f----- stitched up now", adding later that he would never accept the police and forensic DNA test results until "when it's done by my solicitor I will believe them then".
Foley, who voluntarily supplied DNA samples to police both before and after his arrest, was due to be cross-examined again today before final submissions in the case are made to the jury of eight men and four women.