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Bailed man accused of raping Belfast boy banned from part of city

By Alan Erwin

Published 13/10/2016

Gerard Scannell.
Gerard Scannell.

A man charged with the "predatory" rape of a teenage boy in Belfast was banned from entering that part of the city.

The exclusion zone was imposed on 39-year-old Gerard Scannel as he was granted bail at the High Court on Thursday.

The painter and decorator is also to be restricted from unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 18.

Scannell, from Ballymurphy Road in Belfast, allegedly attacked the 16-year-old boy at Falls Park in the early hours of July 16.

He denies three counts of rape and a further offence of sexual assault.

In court on Thursday, it was confirmed that intimate samples taken from both the defendant and alleged victim have established no DNA evidence.

At a previous hearing prosecutors said the boy claims he was attacked after leaving friends to walk home.

He told police that he passed a man wearing dungarees and a T-shirt who asked his name and shouted "Yo" in a bid to attract his attention.

The man then followed him into the park before grabbing him by the neck and repeatedly raping him, it was claimed.

A judge was told how he described the pain of the alleged ordeal and his screams for help.

The teenager claimed his attacker took his top off, revealing a tattoo on his chest.

Scannel was said to have a tattoo on his body matching the description provided.

Police were alerted shortly after the youth returned to his mother's home.

A T-shirt found close to the scene of the alleged rape belonged to the accused, the court heard.

The prosecution also claimed Scannel shaved off his beard before later handing himself in to police.

During interviews he said he had been drinking heavily at two different bars on the night of the alleged attack.

He claimed to have taken the T-shirt off because he had spilled a pint over it and was going to see his mother.

Defence lawyers have challenged the strength of the evidence against him, including the reliability and independence of an identification procedure.

They rejected the prosecution depiction of the case as an "unprovoked predatory rape".

In court on Thursday Scannel's barrister, Mark Farrell, further alleged that a toxicology report on the teenager referred to traces of cocaine.

Bail was granted for the accused to live at an address outside west Belfast under nighttime curfew.

Mr Justice Maguire ordered that location was not to be reported after being told Scannel is under threat from people in his community.

Banning the defendant from entering the west of the city, the judge also directed: "He is to be prohibited from having any unsupervised access to anyone under 18 without prior approval from social services."

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