Rape accused may be granted bail

A man accused of ambushing and raping a woman in a public park has been given fresh hope in his bid to get out of custody.

Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 3:54 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 2:36 pm
Police at the scene at Peatlands Park, Dungannon.

James Wright’s lawyer said a High Court judge is now minded to grant bail if an appropriate address can be found.

The 23-year-old defendant is alleged to have attacked the woman as she walked her dog in Dungannon, Co Tyrone.

She was grabbed and stripped naked at Peatlands Park in broad daylight on April 27, prosecutors said at a previous hearing.

Wright, of Derrylee Road in Dungannon, faces a charge of rape.

During an earlier court appearance it was claimed the victim resigned herself to the sexual assault amid fears she would be killed.

Mr Justice O’Hara was told the man spoke to her during the ordeal, asking various personal questions.

At one point she asked for his name, but he allegedly refused, saying to her that she would tell someone and get him in trouble.

Based on a description provided by the woman police carried out house to house inquiries in the area, resulting in Wright being arrested.

Another member of the public also claimed to have seen the accused wearing similar clothing and riding a bike near Peatlands Park two days earlier.

Forensic tests were to be 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, prosecution counsel said the victim picked him out from a photograph as being the man who raped her.

Based on Wright’s IQ of 44, a defence barrister raised issues about his suitability for any potential trial.

The court also heard that the accused had tried to strangle himself in custody.

At that stage the bail application was adjourned for more information on medical issues.

Wright’s legal team returned to the High Court today (Wednesday, October 5) seeking an indication from the judge that he would approve his release from custody once appropriate living arrangements are located.

Solicitor Ronan McCourt said after the hearing: “Mr Justice O’Hara confirmed that he would be mined to grant bail to my client if a suitable address can be identified.”

The Courts Service later confirmed that the application has once again been adjourned generally.