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Boy (14) accused of series of sex attacks

A 14-year-old boy allegedly carried out sexual assaults on up to 10 other schoolboys, the High Court in Belfast has heard.

The youth, who cannot be identified because of his age, is also accused of threatening to kill some of them, false imprisonment and inflicting burns with a cigarette lighter.

His alleged victims are aged between 10 and 15, with some claiming they were assaulted in a shed near his home.

A prosecution barrister said he has been charged with “a plethora of offences of both a violent and sexual nature”.

His application for bail was adjourned until a social worker can come before the court to provide more information.

The accused, who denies all the charges, was first taken into custody in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, in July on suspicion of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and possession of an offensive weapon.

Nicola Auret, prosecuting, said three young boys claimed at the time he had inflicted burns to their arms.

It was alleged that the accused later gestured to one of them by drawing a finger across his throat.

The court heard that seven boys subsequently made complaints about sexual-type offences.

Six of these were of alleged assaults, while another related to claims of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.

Ms Auret disclosed that police later received complaints from another three boys of sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, incitement to sexual activity and threats to kill.

A defence lawyer said his client's parents, who were both in court, had asked him to express their frustration with the whole process.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said the issue was whether the accused needed to be placed in a secure form of welfare.

Adjourning the bail application, he asked: “Why should I feel confident that I can take the risk that other children will not be harmed?

“It is imperative that we find out what is the appropriate way forward.”

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