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Revealed Face of the child rapist who fought court battle to hide his identity

Brave woman's long battle for justice is finally at an end

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Declan Hannon

Declan Hannon

Declan Hannon

The Sunday World reveals for the first time the face of evil child rapist Declan Hannon.

Hannon spent the last 18 months using laws originally designed to protect the anonymity of victims in a sustained bid to block media outlets from revealing his identity.

But, following an incredibly brave legal fight by his victim, the Court of Criminal Appeal ruled on Monday that 50-year-old Hannon is not entitled to anonymity.

As we publish the first picture of the beast, his victim told us:"At last I can rest my case, after seven years, three trials, a trip to the Supreme Court and finally an Appeal court decision.

"All I ever had was the truth and the support of my loving family and friends.

"This was never about name and shame for me. It was about protecting children and the wider community when this man gets out of prison.

"I know he has not led an exemplary life since he committed these crimes and today, at least, I can be happy and heal from all this.

"My experience with the judicial system may have been prolonged and traumatic but I can honestly say to anyone reading this, please don't be afraid to come forward because you have done nothing wrong and be confident in that knowledge."

Vile Hannon first raped the then nine-year-old child during a game of hide and seek when he was aged 17.

He raped the child three more times during the summer in around 1987 or 1989.

A local sergeant told the court how Hannon, the victim and other children were playing hide and seek when Hannon persuaded her to go into a shed where he raped her. He told her not to tell anyone and that it was their secret.

The woman recalled another incident about two weeks later where she was again playing with other children and Hannon brought her to his bedroom and raped her.

She recalled two more incidents that summer where he brought her to waste ground on the promise of money for sweets and raped her, with a further rape in a caravan.

The woman said she was initially unable to tell anyone for fear of what might happen and did not say anything for years.

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Her mother became aware of what had happened and gardaí and the HSE were notified but for various reasons her mother did not want the case to proceed at that time.

Hannon denied the allegations when interviewed by the health board.

The woman was approached by gardaí in 2013 and asked if she was now in a position to make a statement. She decided to do so.

Hannon was arrested but the interview with him was non-productive.

The woman first gave evidence in a trial in May 2016 but the jury had to be discharged due to witness unavailability.

A second trial, in which the woman gave evidence twice, also had a jury discharged due to issues with documents.

Another trial proceeded in March 2019 but the jury was discharged again. A second jury was empanelled and this trial proceeded to conclusion and conviction.

The woman had given evidence in public and in legal argument in these trials.

Hannon also gave evidence and denied all charges during the final trial.

John Fitzgerald, SC, defending Hannon, said the offences had happened while Hannon was himself a child and he has since lived a good and normal life.

He said Hannon had worked at all times, most recently as a general operative and tree surgeon. He asked the court to take into account the delay in the case which had not been caused by his client. He said the person who committed the offence was a very different person to the man now before the court. Mr Fitzgerald also asked the court to take into account the effect a custodial sentence for Hannon would have on his son, who has special needs.

In sentencing, Mr Justice Michael White said Hannon carried out the brutal and cynical rape of an innocent child. He set a headline sentence of 11 years.

He reduced this to seven after taking into consideration the fact that Hannon had led a constructive and exemplary life since this offending.

The full details of Hannon's sentencing hearing could not be reported until this week as an accompanying gagging order was imposed by Justice White during the trial. The order prevented publication of the identities of both the victim and her abuser.

In a judgment on Monday the Court of Appeal ruled that this order "was superfluous and ought not to have been made".

Justice White said he made his order "at the request of the DPP and the complainant".

Lawyers for the DPP appealed the gagging order after the victim contacted them to say she wished to waive her anonymity and for Hannon to be named. In response, Hannon made applications to the court submitting the victim had no legal right to waive her anonymity.

Speaking outside court in 2019, the victim said she was never asked by the DPP at the sentencing hearing about her wishes and did not know she had to address the question of her anonymity.

In her victim impact statement the woman, now a married mother, said she had to think long and hard about coming forward when she was approached by gardaí in 2013.

She said she tucked away the horror of what had happened but decided to come forward "to right this horrible wrong".

She described how she was a witness in the long court process with no legal representation or guidance.

"All I had was the truth and the knowledge I was doing the right thing," she told the court. She said there had been reference during the court case to the delay in coming forward, but she said having been through the trial process now, she knows they did the right thing and that her mother had protected her from the trauma of a court case as a child.

"I will never forget what has been done for me to finally have justice, peace and closure," she said.

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