Belfast Telegraph

Belfast sex abuse suspect given anonymity after he was 'threatened with getting a bullet in his head' - court hears

By Alan Erwin

A Belfast man accused of sexually abusing a schoolgirl has been threatened with getting a bullet in his head, a court has heard.

Temporary reporting restrictions were imposed to protect his identity amid fears his life could be at risk.

The 29-year-old faces charges of sexual assault, inciting a child under 16 to engage in sexual activity, a further sexual assault and two counts of causing a child to watch sexual acts.

He is further accused of stealing her underwear and sending an indecent or grossly offensive message to her for the purpose of causing distress or anxiety.

The alleged offences, all against the same girl, were committed between January 2012 and July 2014.

As the accused appeared for the first time before Belfast Magistrates Court his family and relatives of the alleged victim were separated in the public gallery.

Defence barrister Declan Quinn sought a temporary anonymity order so that further inquiries could be carried out.

Mr Quinn added that several other threats were allegedly made in the area where his client lives.

He said the accused left Northern Ireland for a period due to the situation.

The defendant's partner, mother and grandmother have also attempted to make statements to police, the court was told.

Citing the accused's Article 2 right to life under the European Convention on Human Rights, Mr Quinn requested temporary reporting restrictions to allow witnesses to go to the PSNI.

A detective sergeant involved in the case confirmed she had only just been made aware of the allegations.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall agreed to impose a ban on publishing the defendant's identity until next Wednesday, when more details are to be provided.

The accused was released on continuing bail.

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