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Man accused of sexually assaulting child granted bail despite contact with 11-year-old

Court lady justice

A Co. Armagh man who is accused of sexually assaulting a family member has been granted bail despite breaching conditions which banned him from contact with children under 18.

Court heard the male gave his number to an 11-year-old neighbour, who had shown interest in ponies he kept in a nearby field.

The accused, who cannot be named for legal reasons, faces a total of 12 charges with a single alleged injured party named.

These are namely; four counts of sexual assault, three counts of exposure, sexual assault by penetration, sexual activity in the presence of a child under 16, attempted intimidation, inciting a child under 16 to engage in sexual activity and inciting a child family member to engage in sexual activity.

Summing up the allegations, a constable told court that the defendant is accused of committing these offence on a family member over a period of five years.

Outlining the breach, the constable stated that police had been made aware that this defendant had been in contact with an 11-year-old girl, which was in breach of his bail.

Prosecution highlighted that the male was not to have unsupervised contact with a child under 18, without the prior approval of social services.

The constable said that this defendant owned a field in which ponies were kept and that the 11-year-old child had an “obsession” with horses.

Whilst at the field, the constable stated that the male had spoken to the girl and, noting that a foal was due to give birth, he gave her his number, instructing her to text if the horse was ready to foal.

The constable stated that it was the belief of police that the 11-year-old and the defendant had been alone on four or five occasions.

Defence barrister Kevin O’Hare confirmed with the constable that his client had no previous criminal record, that he had been on bail for a “significant” time and this was the first alleged breach.

He went on to put it to the officer that the grandmother of the 11-year-old in question was known to the defendant.

The constable stated that he could not confirm this but he had spoken to the grandmother, the child’s guardian, who said she had been unaware of bail conditions until being contacted by the alleged injured party’s mother.

Mr O’Hare put it that his client had believed he was texting the child’s grandmother and questioned whether there was anything “inappropriate” in the content of the messages.

The constable stated that police had not yet accessed the messages in question.

District Judge Eamonn King commented that ponies were “very attractive” to young children but that he was minded to grant bail.

But there was to be an added condition that the defendant remove his horses from the field and not attend the filed until the conclusion of his trial, which is due to start on July 28.

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