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Man jailed for raping Donegal woman at gaming convention has 12-year sentence upheld

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Eight year sentence for rape upheld by Court of Appeal

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said it was difficult to express the horror and seriousness of the offence.

A man jailed for raping a Donegal woman attending a gaming convention has lost an appeal against the severity of his 12-year prison sentence.
Keith Hearne (30), of Allenton Drive, in Tallaght, Dublin 24 pleaded guilty to two counts of rape, one count of oral rape and one count of falsely imprisoning Dominique Meehan.
The rape occurred at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Blanchardstown on July 4, 2015.
Sentencing him to 12 years imprisonment in June 2017, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said it was difficult to express the horror and seriousness of the offence.
Hearne sought to appeal the severity of his sentence on grounds that the sentencing judge failed to attach sufficient weight to his psychiatric illnesses.
However, the Court of Appeal held that he did not have any active symptoms of mental illness at the time of the offence and it, therefore, did not affect his culpability.
Giving judgment in the three-judge court, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said Ms Meehan was setting up an audio-visual display in one of the hotel rooms when Hearne, who was attending the event, locked her into the room and threw her to the ground.
A scuffle ensued and Ms Meehan was thrown into a row of chairs and tackled to the ground where Hearne sat astride her.
He told her he could break her neck there and then, if she preferred. He asked her was she going to be a good girl and then removed her clothing and used a necktie to bind her hands. He then digitally penetrated her.
Hearne's barrister, Roddy O'Hanlon SC, submitted that the sentencing judge did not properly consider his client’s mental disorders and other mitigating factors.

While Hearne had a complex mental disorder, Ms Justice Kennedy said it was clear from reports that he did not have any active symptoms of mental illness at the time of the offence. Therefore his condition did not affect his culpability.
Ms Justice Kennedy, who sat with President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham and Ms Justice Máire Whelan, said the downward reduction of three years from the headline sentence was sufficient in all the circumstances. The appeal was therefore dismissed.
Speaking outside court, Ms Meehan said: “I feel better today, I didn’t sleep a wink last night. I haven’t slept a wink at all this week. I’m getting better and I will continue to get better and I have massive support (referring to those who accompanied her to court).” “We need to show that with harsher sentences we can stop sexual assault. A campaign with advertisements everywhere isn’t going to stop sexual assaults. This hashtag ‘no excuses’ is only going to be effective with proper sentencing. 12 years, 15 years, is not enough.”