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Man, who cycled around Belfast City Centre stabbing random women after being stood up by date, jailed for 9 years.

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A man who has been identified as Dermott McIlveen, has been jailed for 9 years after his “violent rampage”, cycling around Belfast randomly stabbing women.

McIlveen, 40, attacked six women in October 2020 over the course of a two-hour period because he was feeling humiliated and believed women were responsible for the problems in his life.

He admitted a total of seven offenses on October 12th, 2020, where he appeared via video link from Maghaberry prison at Belfast Crown Court. During the hearing it was uncovered that he faced arrest after family members saw a police appeal about the attacks and they contacted police.

McIlveen, humiliated after being stood up on a date (Image: Police handout)

Judge Patrick Kinney Queen’s Council (QC) talked about the impact that the attacks have had on all six victims as he imposed the nine-year custodial sentence, followed by a period of three years extended licence.

“There is a need to protect women from violence by men such as the defendant.” Said Kinney.

McIlveen was diagnosed with autism during his childhood.

On the night of the attacks, he cycled around the streets of Belfast City Centre on a pushbike attacking and stabbing random women over a period of two hours.

The first victim noticed a man on a bike in the Cathedral Quarter, and shortly after she saw him near McDonald’s brandishing a metal object in his hand. She felt him bump into her and soon after noticed blood running down her leg from a cut to her right buttock.

The second victim was attacked on Ormeau Avenue, at a set of traffic lights while she was walking him from work. She recalled McIlveen approaching and staring at her before jabbing her in her left arm and cycling off.

The third victim acquired a neck wound after she was with a friend in Donegall Square West and a bicycle came up behind her and McIlveen stabbed her when she stepped aside to let him pass.

One of the other victims was attacked in Bedford Street around 8:55pm when McIlveen hit her on the back of the head.

The next victim was attacked as she walked along Dunluce Avenue. This victim was punched in the throat by McIlveen.

The final assault took place around 9pm on University Street when McIlveen brushed up against his victim and stabbed her in the hip.

Crown barrister David Russell stated that an extensive police investigation was launched following the attacks where CCTV footage of the attacker was released to the media in a campaign to have him apprehended.

Two relatives of McIlveen who recognised him in the images contacted police.

McIlveen’s initial statement suggested that he had unclear memory of the attacks and that he had been on a date on 12th October. He stated that he felt women were responsible for problems he faced in his life and after his date got up and left him feeling humiliated sitting alone in a bar, he made the decision to hurt women, stating that women were responsible for everything that had gone wrong in his life.’

McIlveen said that he wanted to slash one of the women in the face and after another woman made him particularly angry by stepping onto the road as he rode his bike past, he attacked her.

Judge Kinney said, “It is an utterly repugnant idea that this perceived rejection could in some way justify his actions in attacking vulnerable females in public places. After reading the Victim Impact Statements, the judge said, the “common theme is the distress.” 

The defendant engaged in a determined and pre-meditated campaign to cause harm to innocent and vulnerable female victims. He deliberately chose to target young women and his violence had only one objective, and that was to hurt women.”

For some of the victims, the sight or sound of a bicycle causes great unease.

Defence barrister Patrick Lyttle QC stated that it is clear his client will need assistance whilst in prison for a range of psychological issues.

The probation board assessment suggested that McIlveen posed a serious risk of harm to the public and was a dangerous offender, and Judge Kinney agreed, imposing an extended custodial sentence of 9 years custody followed by an extended licence period of 3 years in an effort to “protect the public”

The sentence means after serving only half of his prison term, McIlveen may not be automatically released on licence, and the release will be determined by parole commissioners.

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