An Armagh man accused of sexually abusing a child relative has claimed she “flaunted herself at him” by the way she dressed.
And it has emerged that supervised contact with the child was permitted by Social Services after the disclosures were made in the week before the accused was arrested.
Aged in his fifties the accused, who cannot be named to protect the child, is charged with sexually assaulting her and intentionally sexually communicating with her for his own gratification.
Offending allegedly occurred between February and June 2022 when the child was 12.
A detective constable told Armagh Magistrates’ Court the charges could be connected.
She explained an anonymous referral came through the NSPCC on July 17 and Social Services instigated a safeguarding plan, after the child made disclosures.
This related to the accused allegedly touched her breasts and moved his hands down to her waist.
She pushed him away without difficulty as he was heavily intoxicated, however, he then allegedly followed her to her bedroom and made “inappropriate comments”.
He tried to touch her while she was in bed and tried to encourage her to get up.
She swore at him loudly after which he left, however, proceeded to send text messages including, “I want to f*** you”.
Screenshots of the messages were provided to police.
The accused was arrested and during interview accepted touching the child’s breasts but insisted this was not sexual as he, “pushed her away because she was in his face”.
Initially, he denied following the child to her bedroom or any further touching but later accepted “due to alcohol, he may not remember as opposed to claiming it did not happen”.
He confirmed sending the text messages contending they were simply to “wind her up”.
However, police were told when the accused was challenged about his behaviour by another relative, he contended the child was somewhat to blame because of her clothing as “she was flaunting it at me”.
In interview he denied saying this but confirmed he believed on the child’s choice of clothing was “inappropriate”.
While objecting to bail, the detective said the accused has been permitted supervised contact with the child and it is understood at least one adult in the family has known about the allegations since March this year, despite authorities not being made aware until four months later.
The detective voiced concerns of further offences, pointing to the accused’s acceptance of alcohol dependency which “he heavily relies on as his defence”.
There are still further witnesses to be spoken to and the detective felt the accused may attempt to interfere with the investigation.
She added: “We are also concerned by his lack of awareness as to the seriousness of this matter and how inappropriate his behaviour has been.”
A defence barrister said bail could be granted with strict conditions which the accused is willing to fully abide by.
He added: “My client was interviewed without a solicitor by his own choice and was quite open with police. Social Services were made aware and safeguarding measures are in place which have been without issue.”
After consideration District Judge Anne Marshall decided to release the accused on £250 bail and ordered him to reside at an address approved by police.
All further contact with the child and anyone aged under 18 is now banned.
The case will return to court later this month.