Northern Ireland

Ballymena pensioner rapist given life term

A Ballymena man has been given a life sentence for raping a 75-year-old woman who begged him for mercy.

Barry Johnston, 26, attacked the woman in August 2010, three days after being released from jail. He was in prison for breaching a sex offenders order in relation to a previous rape conviction.

On that occasion, Johnston had raped his aunt, who has since died.

The judge Corinne Philpott ordered that Johnston serve a minimum of 10 years before being considered for parole.

Addressing him directly she said: "One of the chilling factors in this case is that even when she begged you for mercy, you continued until it suited you to stop."

"There must be a mark to indicate that the courts will not tolerate the abuse of elderly people in their homes."

She said Johnston has yet to explain the reason behind the rape.

The court heard that during his time in prison he refused to co-operate with the authorities, refused to have one-to-one counselling, refused to co-operate with his own doctors and has shown no remorse.

"I regard the fact that he has to date, not made any response to any treatment or given any explanation for his behaviour, except that he can't remember, as another aggravating feature," she said.

Last month, when Johnston pleaded guilty to the attack, Judge Philpott heard that he was previously convicted in 2007 of raping his own elderly aunt.

Johnston had been released from prison in January 2010, but sent back to jail within two months for breaching the order.

But just three days after being freed again, Johnston "banged on the elderly woman's door" at 04:00 GMT.

As she made her way downstairs she found Johnston outside her home, but he managed to get into the house.

After raping her he ordered her to dress and never to report it to the police.

However, the pensioner confided in a neighbour and police were called. They later recovered Johnston's DNA profile not only from the bed sheets and duvet, but also from the victim herself.

The court heard that his victim's life will never be the same.

According to a victim impact report, the pensioner "is unlikely to get back to the person she was before the incident and is at risk of suffering from clinical depression".

As part of his sentence Johnston was also put on the sex offenders register indefinitely, and also will be subject to a sex offenders prevention order until the court deems otherwise.

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