Alleged paedophile hunters to contest charges of attempting to intimidate journalist
TWO alleged paedophile hunters are to contest charges of attempting to intimidate an investigative journalist, a court has heard.
Counsel for Richard Curtis (33) and Tim Heron (29) also announced their intention to fight claims that they used disorderly behaviour and obstructed a road in south Belfast.
Mark Farrell told Belfast Magistrates' Court: "Both defendants are pleading not guilty to all matters."
A third accused, 34-year-old George Keenan, was given another two weeks to confirm his attitude to the same charges.
The case against all three defendants relates to an alleged confrontation with BBC reporter Kevin Magee in February this year.
He was said to have encountered a group at a coffee shop on Botanic Avenue while making a news report on paedophile hunter groups operating in Northern Ireland.
Footage showed him being followed outside as he made his way to a car.
Curtis, from Albert Road in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim; Heron, of Cloverhill Vale in Bangor, Co Down; and Keenan, of Glenwood Court in the Dunmurry area of Belfast, are all charged with attempting by force, threat or menace to cause Mr Magee to refrain from broadcasting a television interview.
They are also jointly accused of unlawfully attempting to stop him from questioning them and others about paedophile hunting in his role as an investigative journalist.
The disorderly behaviour and obstruction of a road charges relate to the same alleged incident.
All three accused appeared at Belfast Magistrates' Court for a judge to be told of their response to the allegations against them.
Keenan's barrister, John O'Connor, raised an issue over one of the counts of attempted intimidation.
Requesting a two-week adjournment in behalf of his client, Mr O'Connor said he wanted to write to the Public Prosecution Service about the charge.
The court also heard CCTV footage, photographs and social media material is expected to feature in the main hearing.
Following the update from defence representatives, District Judge Fiona Bagnall indicated: "This is a case that's going to run."
Although Keenan is due back in court next month for his attitude, Curtis and Heron were excused from attending again on that date.