Northern Ireland news

Belfast man accused of sexually abusing schoolboy he met through gay dating app Grindr refused bail

Crown lawyer Kate McKay disclosed that the accused met the alleged victim on the Grindr dating site

A BELFAST man accused of sexually abusing a schoolboy he met through the gay dating app Grindr has been refused bail amid prosecution claims he may resume contact with a child.

Mr Justice McAlinden also highlighted the 24-year-old's alleged failure to notify authorities of new employment at one of the most popular entertainment venues in the city.

The defendant, who has been granted anonymity due to fears he would take his own life if named, denies four counts of sexual activity involving penetration with the 14-year-old boy on dates between July and October last year.

The man is further charged with breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) in connection with a bar job he obtained.

Police launched a fresh investigation into his activities amid concerns from the child's father about alleged encounters.

Crown lawyer Kate McKay disclosed that the accused met the alleged victim on the Grindr dating site.

Opposing bail, she contended: "He will potentially re-engage with (the boy) who thought in his young mind that there was a relationship ongoing with this man.

"At 14 years of age he is unable to consent in law to any sexual activity."

Defence barrister Mark McGarrity confirmed his client is contesting the charges against him.

"He contends that he was led to believe by the complainant that he was of age where he could consent," counsel said.

The court heard the accused and alleged victim were drawn together by shared experiences of social isolation and confusion over their sexuality.

Denying bail, however, the judge stressed the need to ensure the protection of the public.

Mr Justice McAlinden also said: "He (the defendant) has flouted his SOPO on a number of matters, including gaining employment (at premises) which obviously is one of the more popular venues for young people in Belfast."

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