Rapist Roams Newry After Being Released By Court

A convicted rapist who must inform police of his whereabouts is living rough in a tent close to hundreds of unsuspecting Newry families, the Democrat can reveal.

The shocking news was confirmed in the city’s Magistrates Court this week despite the fact that Patrick McDonagh was ordered back in September 2005 to observe stringent conditions regarding notifying police of his address. The 40-year-old Traveller served a prison term in Dublin’s Mountjoy Jail after being convicted of rape in the Republic in 1989.

In 2005, a Newry magistrate agreed to an application by a senior PSNI officer that McDonagh must keep police informed of his movements.

In particular, Paul Copeland told him to contact police within three days of his moving to or from any residence, while he was also instructed to confirm how long he intends to spend in any one place.

It was indicated that McDonagh spent much of his time in and around the Newry area.

However, on Wednesday McDonagh appeared back at Newry Magistrates Court to plead guilty to a charge of criminal damage.

During the hearing it was stated that McDonagh, who was described in official court documents as being of no fixed abode, is living in a tent pitched close to the Customs and Excise premises on Newry’s Tandragee Road.

According to McDonagh’s solicitor, his client, who was in custody for several weeks prior to the case, was expected to resume living rough in the same area following his release.

This would leave the rapist close to hundreds of households in the Damolly, Drumgullion and Fairlawns estates and within easy walking distance of Our Lady’s Grammar School.

McDonagh was ordered to pay £150 compensation after admitting smashing the window of a house in Newry’s Cleary Crescent during the early hours of January 23.

While Mr Copeland originally ordered that the defendant must remain in custody until the money is paid, he eventually agreed to release him on being told he would have no access to benefits if he remains in prison.

McDonagh was warned that he will be arrested on sight if he fails to pay off the full compensation at £10 a week, starting immediately.

A spokeswoman for the Rape Crisis Centre told the Democrat she is concerned that someone considered by police to pose a serious threat to the public is being allowed to live rough.

“Is he calling into the police to tell them where he is and following the conditions of this court order?” the spokeswoman asked. “We recognise that it’s difficult for the police to keep a track on this man in the circumstances but we would see it as further evidence of the need for public notification, where the community would be informed if there is a dangerous sex offender in their midst.”

A PSNI spokeswoman confirmed that police cannot comment on individual cases.