Man in court charged with Peatlands Park rape

The defendant is taken into court. INPT19-001
The defendant is taken into court. INPT19-001

A Dungannon man has been refused bail following what was described in court as “an impulsive and sexually motivated ambush attack” on a woman in Peatlands Park last week.

James Wright (23) of Derrylee Road was brought to a special sitting of Omagh Magistrates Court yesterday (Monday) with his head covered by a blanket.

A police officer remained in the dock alongside him where he was charged with raping the woman on April 24.

Given the serious nature of the incident police objected to bail.

A detective constable explained the victim was walking her dog around 2.30pm when she was grabbed by the shoulders and a hand was placed over her mouth.

It is alleged she was told not to scream and on realising she was entirely alone and no help was coming, the victim resigned herself to what was happening.

Wright is alleged to have pulled her to the ground and taken off all her clothes, then removed his trousers and shoes.

A sexual assault occurred and Wright is alleged to have also placed his fingers in her mouth causing her to choke.

She realised the attacker was of low intellect and adjusted her tone. She asked him his name but he replied, “I can’t tell you that as you will tell someone and I’ll get into trouble.”

Enquires were conducted and going by the description given by the victim Wright was arrested at his home - which is a very short distance from Peatlands Park.

A search was conducted of the house and police recovered a black mountain bike and a high visibility jacket – both matching the description given by the victim.

However a third item – a cycle helmet – remains unaccounted for and police believe this may contain further forensic evidence.

During interview Wright gave little information and refused to give intimate evidential samples, on the advice of his solicitor.

On being asked outright if he raped the woman he replied, “I don’t want to answer that question.”

Objecting to bail the detective said, “Whilst it is accepted the defendant has no previous we believe he poses a serious risk to the public. Police fear this was a random, impulsive and sexually motivated ambush and the victim was chosen because she was alone.”

A defence solicitor criticised the length of time taken to have his client brought to court. He said, “Irreparable damage may have been done and could continue if a remand in custody is ordered. He has never been known to police in the past.”

However, the detective said Wright was medically examined by a forensic psychiatric and found to be fit for both detention and charge. In addition she pointed out Wright had been known to police but not in a criminal perspective, as he had applied for a firearms licence in 2009, which was refused.

The defence added, “My client is an extremely vulnerable gentleman who is in the care of the Health Trust. I believe he should be treated as a juvenile.”

An application was then made to have Wright’s name and address banned from being reported, but this was refused.

District Judge Peter King said, “These are very serious allegations I am particularly concerned about the ambush-style of the attack and the motive of the attacker. There is also the matter of the missing cycling helmet. I do not take decisions to remand in custody lightly but I believe at present it is both proportionate and reasonable.”

Wright showed no response and was remanded in custody to appear by video-link at Dungannon Magistrates Court on May 18.