Father’s body exhumed in bid to clear son over two historical rape convictions

A father’s body has been exhumed in a bid by his family to clear his son of historical rapes.

Eric McKenna, 60, was jailed for 23 years in March 2018 for two separate rapes of women in Newcastle and Gateshead in the 1980s.

He was caught after he was cautioned for urinating on a plant pot in a neighbour dispute, and DNA swabs were taken which linked him to the unsolved street attacks.

Relatives won the Church of England’s permission to exhume the body of his father Thomas Edward McKenna, who died in 1993, and that happened on Wednesday at St John’s in Elswick, Newcastle.

Family members believed the late Thomas McKenna could be responsible for the rapes and will have DNA samples extracted from the remains.

A cordon was put up around the graveside and staff in full white forensic suits and masks were seen working at the scene.

Newcastle City Council said: “Our Bereavement Services Team carried out the exhumation and subsequent back filling of the grave and reopened the cemetery to the public shortly before 1pm.

“Exhumations are a rarely used but normal part of the cemeteries services provided by the council as managers of the land.

“This is the end of our involvement unless any samples taken by the independent forensics team need to be re-interred in due course.”

Following his conviction, police said Eric McKenna, of Clarewood Court, Newcastle, “did not flinch” when he was challenged over the rapes.

Detective Constable Mick Wilson said last year: “McKenna thought he had got away with his crimes but a neighbourly dispute and a moment of stupidity has landed him in prison for 23 years.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Northumbria Police / PA Wire.