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Belfast teen rape defendant warned against social media abuse of alleged victim

By Alan Erwin

A 17-year-old charged with "horrendous" assaults on fellow student in Belfast has been warned not to commit any online abuse.

The teenage girl he is alleged to have raped has been attacked on Facebook, the High Court heard on Friday, June 2.

As bail was granted to the defendant, who was accused of subjecting the girl to "horrendous" sexual assaults, a judge warned him against becoming involved in any online abuse.

The youth, who cannot be identified because of his age, is charged with four counts of rape and six counts of sexual assault.

The alleged offences were committed early on May 26 while a group of teenagers were gathered at Black Mountain in the city.

He insists any sexual activity with the girl was consensual.

Prosecutors disclosed that police plan to speak to as many as 12 potential witnesses.

The court also heard that at the time of the alleged offence the accused was on police bail following a previous complaint of rape from another girl in March.

He has not been charged over that incident, although the investigation is ongoing.

Appearing via video-link from a youth detention centre, he sobbed and buried his head in his hands as the latest allegations were set out.

"One of the things that concerns me is when he's on police bail he ends up on Black Mountain in the early hours of the morning, and ends up having sex in the way described. - Judge

Following submissions, Mr Justice O'Hara pressed his mother for pledges that she will hand him in if he breached any release conditions.

"He kept his head down while the description of what happened as read out to me."

Mr Justice O'Hara pointed out that bail was opposed amid concerns the accused is already an alleged repeat sex offender.

"The reason why the case is troubling me is the complicating factor that not only is (he) charged with a number of horrendous rapes and sexual assaults from last weekend, but at the time when this encounter between him and the teenage girl took place he was on police bail because of another investigation for an entirely separate but similar alleged attack on another teenager," he said.

Granting bail on conditions including a curfew and alcohol ban, the judge stressed that the accused is to have no contact with the latest complainant.

She attends the same college, prompting an order that her alleged attacker cannot attend classes if she is present.

Mr Justice O'Hara also issued a warning over any further online abuse of her.

"If people who regard themselves as (the accused's) friends or somehow his supporters are involved in these attacks they are making his position worse rather than better," he stressed.

"Facebook and social media slagging off of the complainant should stop in order for (his) position of presumed innocence to be maintained."

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