'McGowan made me feel worthless and disgusted': Northampton rapist jailed for nine years over bedsit attack

Defendant will have to spent an extended five years on licence and be on the sex offenders register for life

By Jack Duggan
Thursday, 29th July 2021, 12:04 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th July 2021, 3:04 pm

A Northampton rapist who convinced himself his vulnerable victim was consenting despite her pleas for him to stop was jailed for nine years today (Thursday, July 29).

Dennis McGowan will also have to spend an extended five years on licence and be on the sex offenders register for life for the attack at his Mounts Court bedsit in 2019.

The victim said she was raped and sexual assaulted by three other men that night before McGowan, 38, while being plied with alcohol and not allowed to leave.

Dennis McGowan. Photo: Northamptonshire Police

McGowan was found guilty of rape at Northampton Crown Court in May while his co-defendant, John Cunningham, 28, of no fixed abode, was found not guilty of rape and conspiracy to rape - the two other alleged attackers have not been identified.

Reading out her victim impact statement at the same court today, prosecutor James Keeley said: "Dennis McGowan made me feel worthless and disgusted.

"Since he raped me, I have been struggling to come to terms with it all and have been affected in different ways. I have trust issues and don't trust anyone else.

"The moment after it happened, I self-harmed because of it and I was sectioned. Although I don't want to hurt myself, I still do it even now.

"I can't sleep and have to take medication to help sleep and need an independent sexual violence advisor to help me through it."

On August 2, 2019, the victim spent time drinking with a friend in Northampton before going to McGowan's bedsit for a party at around 3.30am.

McGowan, Cunningham, someone called Dom and other men were already there - the court heard the defendant felt obliged to let people use his flat to drink.

The victim said she was raped or sexually assaulted by three men in the bathroom and felt like she was going to die as she could not leave.

Her Honour Judge Rebecca Crane told McGowan: "You were, to use a colloquialism, trying it on with her but you were told you weren't allowed access to her.

"At some point, unbeknownst to her, she started a recording on her phone which lasted an hour and a half - the first 15 minutes is you raping her.

"It appears others left you alone in the property with [the victim] while they went to get alcohol. It appears you took your chance while no one was there.

"Your language was crude, sexual and persistent despite her saying she wanted to go home, others had already done stuff to her, she didn't want a relationship with you, she was scared and she wanted to leave, all of which can be heard on the recording.

"You ignored that and raped her. She can be heard whimpering and in pain but you continued."

Afterwards the victim could be heard sleeping on the recording and the other men talking derogatorily about her, including one trying to get in bed with her.

At around 10am, she was allowed to leave and was ordered a taxi, which she asked to take her straight to A&E at Northampton General Hospital.

But she self-harmed before she got there, an ambulance was called and she was sectioned.

The court heard McGowan had been diagnosed with drug-induced psychosis and schizophrenia, which he rejects, and that he lacks the social skills to understand consent.

He will have to serve at least two-thirds of his nine-year jail term before being considered for parole, after which he will spend five years on licence.