He was a good kid, big for his age and a good underage footballer. So why has this Cork man spent over half his life behind bars? Eoin English investigates his list of crimes
He was a promising teenage athlete, having won All-Ireland medals for running, and is remembered as a talented footballer who could have played minor for Cork.
But, by the age of 16, school dropout Ian Horgan was a rapist and a killer.
Now aged 34 and struggling with heroin addiction, the convicted killer, rapist, armed robber, and drug dealer, who is regarded as an erratic and highly dangerous criminal, spent another Christmas behind bars after being sentenced last month for another violent crime.
From Ballincollig, Co Cork, Horgan has spent almost half his chaotic life behind bars since his arrest in 2000, aged just 16, on suspicion of raping and killing Rachel Kiely in the town’s regional park just a few hundred yards from their homes.
Last November, Horgan, who gave an address of Lenihan Avenue, Prospect, Limerick, was sentenced to four years in jail after pleading guilty before Cork Circuit Criminal Court to charges arising from a robbery in north Cork last year in which he threatened a female shop worker with a knife.
It was his second appearance before the courts in six months, and the second time he was handed a jail sentence.
In June, he pleaded guilty before Cork Circuit Criminal Court to having heroin at his family’s home in Macroom when he was visiting it on March 31, 2017.
Sources familiar with Horgan say what is remarkable is how someone so “unremarkable, someone so ordinary” embarked on this life of crime.
“He came out of a good family. It was hard to imagine how a young fella would rape and kill a young girl he knew to see, a neighbour of his, in his local park.
“And you have to remember that this occurred at a time when killings like this were rare in this country.”
Horgan, the eldest of a family of four, was just 16 when he was arrested on suspicion of raping and killing Rachel Kiely, 22, in the regional park in Ballincollig on October 26, 2000.
Rachel, a beautician and a neighbour of the Horgan family, failed to return home that evening after taking her dogs for a walk in the park.
Following an extensive search, her body was discovered concealed in undergrowth near the ruins of an old building inside the park. She had been raped and strangled.
The source recalls the sense of shock caused by the killing.
“We hear of murders today nearly every week but back then, it was very unusual. It was a very sad story. This girl just went for a walk in her park. Her dogs came home and she didn’t.”
Horgan was one of several people who were placed by eyewitnesses in the park around the same time Rachel went missing.
He was arrested a few days later and admitted to gardaí that he had been in the park but denied harming Rachel. However, DNA and fibres would link him to the crime.
Horgan was charged a few weeks later with Rachel’s sexual assault and murder. He denied both charges and was remanded in custody to St Patrick’s Institution.
By the time the trial started in early 2002, he was old enough to be publicly named. The trial would run for 26 days over seven weeks.
He told his trial that, at the age of 14, he had been “dismissed” from school for bad behaviour but his father, Daniel Horgan, disputed this in his evidence, saying that the school merely advised the family that they would be “better off if they took him out of it”.
The trial was told that analysis of fibres showed that green, blue, and brown acrylic fibres found on the grey fleece jacket Rachel was wearing at the time of her death matched fibres from Horgan’s jumper.
Four red acrylic fibres on her fleece also matched a red Arsenal hat Ian Horgan left close to his motorbike, which he had left in the park.
The DNA in semen recovered from Rachel’s body matched DNA in saliva samples taken from Horgan.
In June 2002, the jury found him guilty of both charges and he was sentenced to life in prison for murder, and later to 10 years for rape, but the Court of Criminal Appeal overturned the conviction in December 2004, ruling that it was unsafe, and Horgan was released on bail pending a retrial.
It was while he was out on bail in 2005 that he was arrested and charged with robbery and the unlawful taking of a car at Clondrohid post office, west of Cork City. During the robbery, the elderly owners of the post office were tied up in their own kitchen. His bail was revoked and he was back behind bars.
Just over a year later, Horgan pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to Rachel Kiely’s manslaughter and was convicted of her rape.
He was sentenced to eight years in prison, six of which were suspended. In 2007, Horgan, who was by now 23, had his sentence increased from eight to 12 years after the Court of Criminal Appeal agreed with the DPP that the original sentence was unduly lenient.
In 2007, Horgan went on trial for the post office robbery, denying any involvement in the raid or with taking the car. The court heard that, 24 hours after the robbery, he had given his girlfriend €950, telling her it had come from the credit union.
Gardaí recovered a slash-hook and a kitchen knife from the stolen car. The knife matched a set found in Horgan’s home and DNA again linked Horgan to the crime.
A jury found him guilty on both charges and he received an eight-year jail term, but he successfully appealed the conviction.
When it was listed for retrial in June 2010, Horgan pleaded guilty and was jailed for four years — to be served after completion of his term for Rachel’s rape and manslaughter.
During the court proceedings for the post office robbery, his defence senior counsel, Tim O’Leary, referred to the Rachel Kiely case and said: “It was a notorious offence committed when he was under the age of majority. I would ask you to give him some possibility of redemption in his extremely bleak life. He does want to change. He does want to try. He does not want to spend the entirety of his life in jail.”
In March 2013, it was reported that Horgan, who was serving his sentences in Wheatfield Prison, had beaten the Limerick gangster Ger Dundon, a senior figure in the McCarthy/Dundon gang, to such an extent that Dundon required hospital treatment.
Horgan was transferred out of Wheatfield as a disciplinary measure, but also for his own safety amid fears of a revenge attack.
By November 2013, he had been released from prison and moved to Limerick, where it was reported he was living with Teresa O’Neill, whose brother, Thomas, had been convicted and jailed for his involvement in a vicious gang rape in Cratloe Woods in Clare, in 2004, when he was aged 16.
Within days of his release, Horgan, who was being monitored closely as a registered sex offender, was stopped by gardaí as he travelled in a car with child sex attacker Joseph Finnerty.
The two were stopped together on three separate occasions, with garda sources at the time quoted as being “extremely concerned” to see the two men keeping company.
Just a few weeks later, on November 13, 2013, Horgan was involved in violent crime again — this time in Limerick.
Horgan jumped the counter at Sean’s Shop in John’s Gate but the shop manager tackled him. During a struggle, the manager managed to pull off a scarf covering Horgan’s face before he made off with €60.
Horgan’s DNA was found on the scarf and he was arrested and made full admissions, claiming that the robbery was opportunistic when he saw the till had been left open.
A month later, he was refused bail before a special court sitting in Limerick after being charged in connection with a shooting on the southside of the city in which a man sustained more than 20 pellet wounds to his stomach and hands.
In January 2015, Horgan was cleared of any involvement in the shooting incident but the following month he was before the courts again, where he pleaded guilty to robbing €60 from Sean’s Shop just over two years earlier. He was jailed for five years, with the final year suspended.
He was released from jail in time to spend Christmas 2016 as a free man but he was in trouble again within months after gardaí mounted a search of a property in Macroom, Co Cork, in March 2017, on foot of the receipt of confidential information about drug activity at the address.
Macroom gardaí with a specially trained sniffer dog went to the property and conducted a search of the bedroom in the house where Horgan was staying.
A bedside locker covered in clothes and other items attracted the attention of the drugs dog and in particular a sock found in the locker.
This sock was examined by gardaí and found to contain six plastic wraps of heroin and a weighing scales. The total value of the heroin was €3,000.
Horgan admitted responsibility for the drugs when he appeared in court last June, where the court heard that Horgan was being paid in the form of a quantity of heroin for himself and his transporting of the drug was partly offsetting a drugs debt he had accrued. He admitted he had repackaged the drugs as part of this process.
The court was told that Horgan had developed the heroin addiction while in custody in the previous years.
Imposing a sentence of two years and three months, with the last six months suspended, Judge Gerard O’Brien described Horgan’s list of previous convictions as “somewhat alarming”.
Then last month, Horgan, was before the courts again in connection with a knife-point robbery in Mallow.
He admitted stealing €1,395 in cash from the Carry Out off-licence in Ballydahin, Mallow, Co Cork, on September 18, 2017, and with threatening a female staff member during the robbery with a knife.
The court was told that Horgan entered the shop and put the knife against the staff member’s chest before fleeing the scene with the cash.
While the staff member was physically uninjured, she was left deeply shocked and so upset that she could not return to the job for several months.
The judge imposed a six-year term but suspended the final two.