bid to clear name | 

Vile Belfast paedo behind horrifying rape of girl (12) launches appeal

Gerard McKenna (29) from Rockville Street in Belfast, was convicted of rape and sexual assault

Gerard McKenna

Paul Higgins

A man convicted of raping a 12-year-old girl has launched a bid to clear his name.

News of Gerard McKenna’s appeal emerged during a hearing in Craigavon last week.

A defence lawyer confirmed a challenge had been launched but said he had yet to hear back from the Court of Appeal.

He also conceded a formal hearing could not be held until McKenna (29) and his co-defendant Paul Sheridan had been sentenced.

Paul Sheridan

Last November, Sheridan (25), from Hillfoot Crescent in Ballynahinch, pleaded guilty to child abduction and raping the 12-year-old girl.

McKenna, from Rockville Street in Belfast, was convicted of rape and sexual assault.

He was also convicted of sexual activity with a second complainant who was 15 at the time, child abduction and offering to supply cocaine.

The crimes were committed on Belfast’s Lagan Towpath two-and-a-half years ago.

Previous courts were told both men plied their victims with vodka before the attack.

Sheridan was not tried alongside McKenna because of supposed threats against him. A warrant was issued for his arrest after he went on the run.

During his trial, McKenna launched into foul-mouthed attacks on the prosecution and jury, describing the latter as “f*****g corrupt c***s, smelly orange b******s, lowlife scum”.

“Mark my words... get ready for the aftermath. There’s going to be serious retribution for this,” he shouted as he was handcuffed by prison officers.

The judge told him: “There’s only one lowlife scum here and everybody knows who that is.”

Previous hearings were told that following interviews with probation officers, both men were assessed as dangerous offenders and now face enhanced sentencing powers, including life imprisonment.

The court was told last week that because McKenna and Sheridan raped the girl separately, they should be sentenced separately, but this was rejected by the judge.

The case was adjourned for two weeks.

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