Northern Ireland

Charity in call after Barry Johnston Ballymena rape case

An organisation which works with rape victims has called for more robust monitoring of sex offenders after a serious attack on a 74-year-old woman.

Barry Johnston, 26, raped the pensioner in Ballymena in August last year.

The attack took place three days after he was released from jail after breaching a sex offences order in relation to a previous rape conviction.

Johnston will be sentenced for the rape of the pensioner on 6 January. He also admitted possessing drugs.

Helen Bracken of the Nexus Institute called into question the current system.

"Questions need to be asked about risk assessment and the management of sex offenders," she said.

"There should have been more robust protocols in place because, at the end of the day, somebody has been very grievously damaged as a result of this."

The PSNI said the rape was horrendous and diabolical.

It said there had been a plan in place to deal with Johnston and what took place happened despite those best efforts.

Ballymena Crown Court heard that Johnston's elderly victim had pleaded with him after he entered her house, saying "have mercy on me, I'm an old woman".

Johnston told her not to report the attack, but after she confided in a neighbour the police were alerted and he was arrested on the basis of DNA evidence.

The court was told his victim was "at risk of suffering from clinical depression" and was "unlikely to get back to the person she was".