Father’s Body To Be Exhumed Over Fears Son Wrongly Convicted Of Rape

The family of Thomas McKenna believe he could be responsible for historic offences.
<strong>Eric McKenna was jailed for 23 years in March for two rapes</strong>
Eric McKenna was jailed for 23 years in March for two rapes
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A family which believes their father may be guilty of historical rapes for which his son was convicted have won permission to have his body exhumed.

Eric McKenna, 60, was jailed for 23 years last March for two separate rapes of women in Newcastle and Gateshead in the 1980s.

He was caught after he was cautioned for urinating on a plant pot in a neighbour dispute, and DNA swabs were taken which linked him to the unsolved street attacks.

Relatives have now gained Church of England permission to exhume the body of his father, Thomas Edward McKenna, who died in 1993 and is buried in a cemetery in Elswick, Newcastle.

They believe Thomas McKenna could be responsible for the rapes and want to extract his DNA from the remains.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Newcastle said: “The Church of England will only grant permission to exhume a person’s remains from consecrated ground in exceptional circumstances.

“Recent cases considered by the Consistory Court have laid out principles that each chancellor should follow when considering an application for exhumation.”

The spokesman said: “Our chancellor Euan Duff has followed these principles when considering this case, although he has been very clear that granting permission in no way supports the accusation being made against the deceased.

“It is recognition that the DNA analysis may help settle this matter once and for all.”

Following his conviction, police said Eric McKenna, of Clarewood Court, Newcastle, “did not flinch” when he was challenged over the rapes.

Detective Constable Mick Wilson said last year: “McKenna thought he had got away with his crimes but a neighbourly dispute and a moment of stupidity has landed him in prison for 23 years.”

After the case, the Crown Prosecution Service said after McKenna was arrested, samples were taken which confirmed that his DNA profile matched those retrieved from samples taken during each of the two rape investigations.

They said the chance, in each case, of there being such a match had he not been the source of the DNA in those earlier samples was calculated to be one-in-a-billion.

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