Cooks Hill rapist jailed

Attack brutal, callous and degrading: judge

THE Cooks Hills rapist will spend between 12 and 15 years in jail for a premeditated, brutal and callous attack on a 23-year-old stranger in the night.

Daniel Paul Keeley, 31, called out to the lone female as she made her way home on foot after work about 8.30pm on a Monday in July last year.

A flat car tyre had left her without her usual means of transport. Ironically, she had asked her work colleagues about the safest way home.

After jogging up to her, Keeley grabbed the woman’s wallet and stepped away, but then he stepped back.

‘‘Just take it’’, she told him, but he moved in behind her.

She started dialling triple-0 when he threatened her, and she realised he was holding a knife to her throat.

In the laneway between the Lowlands Bowling Club and nearby houses, she tried to reason with him, offering him her keycard, but he repeatedly threatened to stab her and told her to ‘‘shut up’’.

He forced her to the ground, and ignored her objections.

He raped her repeatedly while continuing to threaten her with the knife, cutting her hand in the process.

When his phone rang for the second time he stopped to answer it, then said something like ‘‘thank you miss’’, picked up the wallet and ran off.

The details emerged during  sentencing  in  Newcastle District Court yesterday, when  Judge Laura Wells, SC, described the ordeal as nothing short of ‘‘completely terrifying’’.

‘‘No doubt there would have been times, if not the whole time, where she thought she was going to die,’’ Judge Wells said.

Perhaps after the first rape, the slightly built woman thought her ordeal was over, the judge said.

‘‘But it seems the ordeal was only half over,’’ she said.

The attack was brutal, callous, humiliating and degrading, and carried out in an ‘‘efficient and forceful’’ manner, with an element of premeditation, Judge Wells said.

In an attempt to avoid arrest, Keeley shaved off his full-face beard and got a new driver’s licence in his mother’s maiden name.

Keeley pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated sexual intercourse without consent occasioning actual bodily harm and one count of aggravated robbery.

He was sentenced to a total of 15 years in jail, with a non-parole period of 12 years.

- Gabriel Wingate-Pearse

Senior officer’s hunch pays off 

 DETECTIVE Senior Constable Jason Freney knew the pressure was building. 

It was 11 days after the city had woken to news of one of the worst attacks on a woman in the region’s history – a knife-wielding attacker who randomly selected a young woman walking home and viciously raped her in a laneway near Lowlands Bowling Club, Cooks Hill.

The fabric of the city had changed. They needed to catch this vicious rapist quickly.

Strike Force Scotswood had sent evidence from the victim to forensic specialists with an urgent sticker to extract DNA from it as soon as possible.

The attack occurred on July 11 last year and  on the afternoon the DNA result comes back, on July 22, police  get their first big lead.

The DNA taken from the semen sample matches DNA profiles from a burglary on a unit on Fowler Street, Hamilton South, in 2008 and the break-ins of two cars in Nelson Bay the year before.

  But they have already charged the bloke responsible for the Fowler Street job. His DNA isn’t the rapist’s.

Freney has a hunch.  

The burglary victim was named as a Daniel Paul Keeley. Freney lucks out when checking for Keeley’s DNA profile on the database. It could  mean the semen could be his.

Keeley has some form and there is evidence he frequently visited relatives at Nelson Bay in 2006, at the time of the car break-ins.

Freney is onto something. But more checks are needed. 

 In her statement, the victim says she hears her attacker’s phone ringing during the attack. They think the attack was  between 8.20pm and 8.50pm. 

Keeley’s phone records show there were two missed calls from his partner at 8.24pm and 8.40pm.

But the cops still don’t have enough to arrest him. They check his licence.

Five days later Keeley tells the then RTA  in Newcastle West  he has lost his licence. 

His old licence had a photograph of him with  a beard similar to the one described by the victim.

This time he is clean shaven and has had his hair cut off. He  obtains a new licence under the name Daniel Paul Marriott.

The police have enough to obtain Keeley’s DNA profile and get it tested. 

By this time, Freney has put out an alert on Keeley and his New Zealand passport.

On July 31, Freney gets a call from immigration officials at Sydney’s international airport - Keeley is boarding a plane to Bali in an hour with his family.

By August 4, the DNA sample is returned and it’s a match from the semen sample. Keeley is the rapist.

As Keeley walks towards customs on his return, Freney grabs him. 

Once he discovers they have his DNA, Keeley admits his guilt. 

His partner gives police a statement detailing a history of domestic violence, and how Keeley arrived home on the night of the attack about 9pm and said he found $20 and a packet of cigarettes in a park.

She reveals that the day after the attack, and after they see a news report on it, Keeley jokes that the description of the attacker sounds like him. Within days she disowns him.

More than 12 months after his  arrest, Keeley’s Holden Commodore remains parked outside his unit block. It is filled to the brim with his rotting belongings.

- Dan Proudman

Daniel Paul Keeley.

Daniel Paul Keeley.

Keeley's Holden Commodore with his belongings still inside.

Keeley's Holden Commodore with his belongings still inside.