Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Judge set to pass sentence in false rape allegation case

A Newry man who falsely claimed he was the victim of rape will find out next week if he faces a jail sentence.  Twenty four year-old Gary Kearns from Barcroft Park, appeared in Newry Crown Court before Christmas where he admitted perverting the course of public justice by making the false allegations.

During that hearing – one of the first cases of its kind in Northern Ireland – Judge Paul Ramsey described Kearns’ claims as “repellent allegations” against a “completely and totally innocent” victim.

The Judge said while the custody threshold had been passed by Kearns, the issue was whether there were exceptional circumstances which would allow the court to suspend any sentence.

The court heard that in October 2014, Kearns went to police claiming he was the victim of rape the previous month and named his alleged attacker.

Prosecution lawyer Stephen McCourt said that in the months following his claims, Kearns not only broadcast the news locally but maintained when asked by police that “the allegation was true and he wanted to proceed with the complaint”.

During police interview, the alleged attacker refuted Kearns’ claims and directed officers to a number of possible witnesses.

When police went to update Kearns, he then advised them that he did not want to proceed with the complaint and he later admitted he had “lied about the allegation of rape”.

Mr McCourt said “thankfully” court proceedings had not been initiated for Kearns’ victim, who was described by his mother and family as “vulnerable and naive”.

The prosecution lawyer added, however, that the man continues to suffer from extreme depression and anxiety and “the issues continue to blight the victim as he tries to go about his everyday life”.

Mr Kearn’s defence barrister Seamus Lannon said psychiatric and other reports indicated that a remorseful Kearns “persuaded himself that certain things happened when they did not… an element of make-believe in his own mind”.

The lawyer said Kearns had instructed  him not to contest “anything that has been said” and highlighted the fact that the defendant had gone to police to confess his guilt.

Mr Lannon claimed that Kearns had “freaked out and wanted matters sorted” when he discovered the injured party was to be taken to court and added that he had no understanding of the consequences of making his allegations.

The defence lawyer argued that although the custody threshold had been passed, the court should allow Kearns full credit for his guilty plea and take into account his own vulnerability, low IQ, retardation and ongoing depression and that he may believe things happen when they are not true.

Kearns will appear before Newry Crown Court next Wednesday January 11th for sentencing.