A man who raped a 91-year-old woman and who police believe still poses a serious risk to the public, is to be released from prison within weeks.Of course, one has to wonder how successful this will prove in preventing him from committing rape, should he be so minded. After all, I imagine that if one is prepared to go out and rape people, the prospect that the act of rape might also be in breach of an interim order is perhaps not a great deterrent.
Eamon Foley, from Castlederg, has served half of his 16-year sentence, and must be freed under the system of automatic 50% remission.
Mary-Anne McLaughlin died a month after the attack in January 1999.
While in jail, the 47-year-old has refused to take any sex offenders courses and an assessment panel termed him a high risk offender who presents a danger to any female - child or adult.Police have been granted an interim order which means that when he is released he can only live at an approved address, can only use public transport and can have no access to children or vulnerable adults.
Apparently the sixteen-year sentence that Foley received was the maximum available under Northern Irish law. Steps are now being taken to give judges the option of life sentences in cases like this, and to remove the automatic 50% remission, whereby criminals in Northern Ireland automatically become eligible for parole after serving half their nominal sentence (and which means that Foley's sentences was, in practice, eight years, not sixteen). Such steps are to be welcomed - after all, if someone has committed a crime as heinous as that committed by Foley, and continues to pose a threat to public safety, then the only sensible options are life imprisonment and execution. However, it appears that they will come too late to prevent the release of this unrepentant and dangerous pervert.