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Former boxer chased boy (9) down Belfast alleyway to sexually assault him, court hears

Ciaran James McAuley was arrested in a chip shop

By Ashleigh McDonald

Published 11/12/2015

The incident occurred in the New Lodge area of north Belfast
The incident occurred in the New Lodge area of north Belfast

A former boxer chased a nine-year old boy down an alleyway in north Belfast where he sexually assaulted the youngster, a court has heard.

Ciaran James McAuley, who at the time of the offence had been living at a hostel on Belfast's Victoria Street, targeted the boy on the afternoon of August 9 last year.

McAuley (27), who has a Sports Coaching degree, admitted a single charge of sexually assaulting the youngster. The incident occurred in the New Lodge area of the city, after the victim had attended a local fun fair.

Belfast Crown Court heard that since last summer's offence, McAuley has accepted that his sexual interest towards children is inappropriate. He is also facing separate charges alleging contact with a young boy on Facebook.

Crown prosecutor Philip Henry said that on August 9 last year, the nine-year old victim and his 12-year old friend had been at the local shop after attending a local fun fair and were walking back to his house when he was chased down an alley by McAuley.

Revealing that the alleyway was close to the youngster's house, Mr Henry said McAuley grabbed the boy, forced him to the ground and sexually assaulted him.

The victim's friend was able to flee from the alleyway and raise the alarm with an adult.

Mr Henry told the court: "The injured party, as a result of being on the ground, was quite upset and shouting, but when the alarm was raised by his friend, the defendant ran off."

During the incident, the youngster struggled with McAuley as he was on the ground, resulting in minor scrapes and bruises.

McAuley fled the scene, and when police arrive they were given a description of the man. Ten days later, two women who knew the victim's family saw a man matching the description. After contacting a third person, McAuley was confronted. Police were called and McAuley was arrested in a chip shop.

Despite being identified by the young victim, during a police interview McAuley initially denied the offence. However, he later pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the youngster.

Mr Henry concluded by saying that last August's incident has had a "substantial affect" on the boy.

Defence barrister Joel Linsday acknowledged that the "snatch and grab" incident was a "horrific experience" for the young victim.

Outlining McAuley's background, Mr Lindsay said his client secured three A Levels, obtained a degree in Sports Coaching, and was also a boxer who competed in the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

McAuley's downfall, the barrister said, could be traced back to when he started taking drugs, which led to a fall-out with his parents, a period of homelessness then "moving around" in hostel accommdation.

Revealing that McAuley was a "young man struggling with his sexuality", Mr Linsday said it was the case that his client smoked cannabis, watched internet porn then "for some mad moment, he decided 'I have seen this on the internet, so why can't I do that.'"

The barrister also said that McAuley now recognises that his "sexual interests towards children are inappropriate", adding he would be "willing to engage in work to address these deficits."

Judge Kerr QC remanded McAuley back in to custody, and informed him he would be sentenced next Wednesday (16th).

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