Dungannon man accused of Peatlands Park rape '˜tried to strangle himself'

A woman ambushed and raped in a public park resigned herself to the sexual assault amid fears she would be killed, the High Court has heard.

Thursday, 5th May 2016, 2:54 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th May 2016, 4:52 pm
Man appears in court charged with Dungannon park rape

Prosecutors said the victim was attacked and stripped naked as she walked her dog in broad daylight in Peatlands Park.

A judge was also told the 23-year-old man charged with carrying out the rape has since tried to strangle himself in custody.

Details emerged as James Wright, of Derrylee Road in Dungannon, mounted an application for bail.

Crown lawyer Conor Maguire said the victim recalled being grabbed by her shoulders as she walked through Peatlands Park at around 2.30pm on April 27.

She screamed and struggled with the man, but he put a hand over her mouth which stopped her breathing.

Forensic tests are being carried out on a bicycle and high-visibility jacket recovered from Wright’s home.

He declined to provide intimate body samples and refused to take part in an identification process, the court heard.

However, Mr Maguire said the victim picked him out from a photograph as being the man who raped her.

After being assessed by a psychiatrist as fit to be interviewed and charged, Wright would not answer questions put to him.

Opposing bail, the prosecutor argued: “The attacker had no regard for the fact this woman was conducting an innocent activity, and no regard for the fact that passers-by could have come upon the scene.”

Defence counsel countered that a second psychiatrist believes Wright’s limited intelligence meant he was not fit to be interviewed or understand the proceedings.

Raising the issues over his client’s suitability for any potential trial, the barrister said: “He’s got an IQ of 44. I have never personally come across a criminal trial taking place with someone who has an IQ of less than 50.”

He also told the court Wright claimed to have tried to strangle himself on Wednesday night.

Adjourning the bail application, Mr Justice O’Hara requested more information on medical issues and the safety of Wright’s current detention.

He said: “There’s an obligation on this court to take steps to protect the victim - and this lady has been raped, this isn’t an alleged rape - and other members of the public.

“But there’s also an obligation, given the circumstances, the IQ and limitations of Mr Wright, to make sure he’s protected. There isn’t a conflict between those interests.”