Downey found Dead, a Convicted Killer, and Rapist.House Blaze?

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Convicted killer and sex offender (57) dies in Cork house blaze

He was convicted of the manslaughter of a Donegal woman in the UK and also jailed for the attempted rape of another woman in Ireland

Conor Downey of west Douglas, Cork Photo: Courtpix
Conor Downey of west Douglas, Cork Photo: Courtpix

Today at 11:07

A FIRE which claimed the life of a convicted killer and sex offender is being treated as accidental.

Conor Downey (57) died in a fire which erupted at the West Douglas property he was living at in Cork shortly before 3pm on Tuesday.

The blaze erupted in the sitting room of the house and the house occupant, named locally as Conor Downey, was pronounced dead shortly after being removed from the property by emergency services.

His formal identification required an examination of dental records.

A full investigation is now underway to determine the precise cause of the blaze.

However, the fire is believed to have been accidental.

The deceased was apparently last seen on Tuesday morning when he went out to do some shopping.

Neighbours raised the alarm when smoke was spotted billowing from the house around 3pm – and there was no answer to repeated knocks on the door.

Downey was convicted of the manslaughter of a Donegal woman in the UK and of the attempted rape of another woman in Ireland.

He was found guilty of the attempted rape in Cork and sentenced to 12 years in prison after being linked to the crime through a random DNA sample sought by gardaí in respect of the murder of young woman in a Cork park in October 2000.

While the DNA sample proved Downey had no involvement whatsoever in the murder, it implicated him in a separate and unrelated sex assault against a young woman who was attacked while sleeping in her home some years earlier.

The Central Criminal Court was told in 2004 that, after realising he was being prosecuted in respect of the attempted sex attack, he went to the surgery of the doctor who had conducted the DNA sample and threatened him with a knife.

Mr Justice Kevin O’Higgins was told that when the victim of the attempted rape presented herself at a garda station to report the attack, her facial injuries were so severe that detectives thought she was wearing a Halloween mask.

Downey was previously jailed in 1993 in London for the manslaughter five years earlier of a 26-year-old Donegal woman he had been sharing a house with.

Superintendent Brian Calnan told the Central Criminal Court, during the sentencing hearing for the attempted rape, that a woman in England had been reported missing in 1988 and had not been found until 1992.

She was found when Downey went to the police in Surrey and confessed to having killed her.

He told them they had been having consensual sex but she had withdrawn the consent at one stage.

Downey said he then became angry and strangled her.

He also gave information to the police on the basis of which some of her body parts were recovered.

However, her torso remained undiscovered.

Supt Calnan said British police had also found fingerprints matching Downey’s on the bags in which the deceased woman’s body parts were found.

Downey was convicted of the attempted rape of the Cork woman in November 2003 by a jury which also found him guilty of indecently assaulting her on the same occasion.

Supt Calnan said gardai arrested him for the attempted rape in May 2001.

The arrest was made on the strength of the matching DNA, which showed there was only a one-in-a-thousand million chance of anyone else with the same DNA profile having attempted to rape the woman.

Downey had also been convicted in February 2004 of assaulting the doctor who had collected the blood samples from him for the DNA test.

He arrived at the doctor’s surgery with a knife while he was examining a patient and threatened to use the knife on the medic.

“I am in the Central Criminal Court because of you,” he told the doctor as he held a knife to his stomach.

The victim of the sex attack had been out with friends in 1988 and had gone to sleep in her apartment in a Cork city suburb.

She woke suddenly to find a man, who had broken into her home and was naked from the waist down, standing at her bed.

The shocked woman asked him what he was doing and he attempted to have sex with her.

She said her attacker struggled with her for what seemed to be an hour and tried to strangle her to make her remain quiet.

Downey received a 12 year prison sentence, with the final 12 months suspended, and returned to the Douglas area when he completed his jail term in 2012.

His return to the area sparked concerns from Douglas residents in 2012 but the 57 year old was described by locals as being very quiet and having kept to himself over the past decade.

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