Northern Ireland news

Lagan Towpath: Men in court accused of raping girl (12)

Police said the incident happened at the Lagan Towpath in Lisburn. Picture by Google Maps 

Two men have appeared in court jointly accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. 

Standing side by side in the dock of Lisburn Magistrates Court, 27-year-old Gerard Michael Owen McKenna and Paul Sheridan (23) confirmed they understood their respective charges. 

McKenna, from Rockville Street in Belfast, and Sheridan, from Hillfoot Crescent in Ballynahinch, were jointly charged with the rape and sexual assault of a female child under 13 on December 23. 

McKenna was further charged with three additional counts of sexually assaulting a second 15-year-old female child, tendering counterfeit currency, stealing alcohol worth £2.99 from a Spar shop and two counts of making a threat to kill two males. 

According to the charge sheet detailing the offences, Sheridan made no reply after he was cautioned while McKenna declared “shove it up your h**e” when the rape offence was put to him and described others as “madness” and “not true.”

Giving evidence, a PSNI officer said he could connect both men to the charges and that police had objections to their bail applications.

He outlined how the two children were with the defendants at the Lagan towpath on Monday afternoon when McKenna allegedly “held the 12-year-old’s hand and kissed her” before sexually assaulting her.

The officer said the same girl also alleged that Sheridan held her hand and kissed her before raping her, activities which were allegedly done “without her consent.”

The officer continued that McKenna the allegedly stole alcohol from an off licence where he also bought beer using a counterfeit £20 note, adding it was after that when he is alleged to have sexually assaulted the teenage girl. 

“After acquiring alcohol, they went to Belfast by train where further sexual assaults occurred,” claimed the officer. 

He revealed that due to the “vulnerability of the girls,” neither formal statements nor Achieving Best Evidence video interviews had been conducted so police were proceeding on verbal accounts from the alleged victims but that the ABE’s will be held “in the coming days.”

He further revealed that both complainants had attended at a rape enquiry centre. 

Both Sheridan and McKenna were arrested and interviewed and the court heard that Sheridan had admitted being with the 12-year-old and that they had touched each other but claimed it had been “over clothing” and with her consent while McKenna “denied all offences.”

District Judge Amanda Henderson refused bail. 

Sheridan and McKenna will appear again via videolink on January 6.

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