Ballymena teen forgives campaigner for wrong ‘paedophile’ claim

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A Ballymena teenager wrongly ‘named and shamed’ on Facebook as a paedophile rapist has forgiven the man who made the mistake.

Brandon Rainey, 17, from Doury Road, told controversial anti-paedophile campaigner, Joe McCloskey, that he has accepted his apology for linking his picture to that of a man with almost the same name, also from Ballymena, who was sentenced to four years in jail for the rape of a 12-year-old girl.

Joe McCloskey's Facebook apology for the wrong picture and identification

Joe McCloskey's Facebook apology for the wrong picture and identification

Brandon’s father, Mark Rainey, said his son had been flabbergasted when he was made aware of the post but stressed that Mr McCloskey had made swift contact to apologise for his error.

“You can imagine how Brandon felt at first but he remains a supporter of the role which Joe McCloskey plays in highlighting the activities of paedophiles,” Mr Rainey told the Ballymena Times.

“He is entirely innocent and if anything this will mean that Joe McCloskey is more careful in future,” he said.

The confusing episode began when Mr McCloskey, a high-profile campaigner on social media, inadvertently posted a picture of the entirely innocent Brandon Rainey to illustrate a court case which was heard in Downpatrick.

In that case a teenage rapist, originally from Ballymena but currently in custody at a Young Offenders Centre, was given a four-year custodial sentence.

He had been caught in bed with a 12-year-old girl by her mother.

Downpatrick Crown Court heard Brandon John Rainey, 18, had “groomed” his victim with flattery, cannabis and prescription drugs.

Rainey pleaded guilty to charges of rape, attempted rape and sexual assault, in April last year.

The judge said it was clear Rainey knew his victim was 12.

The court heard the girl’s mother caught the pair in bed together after they had exchanged social media messages.

It was claimed the mother physically assaulted Rainey before calling police.

Rainey denied any wrongdoing when interviewed by police, but when DNA evidence was put to him, he claimed the girl told him she was 16.

Jailing him, the judge said it was clear that Rainey knew at all times his victim was a child of 12 and that even after he had been caught and assaulted by his victim’s mother, he continued to send the girl messages “to try to avoid detection”.

Rainey also told her to clear and delete any previous messages he had sent.

Rainey was under a suspended sentence at the time of the rape, and will have to serve an extra two years on supervised licence after his release.