Belfast Telegraph

Man facing child sex charges loses bid to be given anonymity

By Staff Reporter

A 34-year-old man who is to stand trial over multiple sexual offences involving children has failed in an attempt to be granted anonymity at Dungannon Crown Court.

Mark Andrew Coney of Drumaran Road, Gilford, is accused of six offences, five of which relate to children.

It is alleged Coney intentionally engaged in sexual activity in the presence of a child, attempted to abduct a child, caused a child to look at an image of a person engaging in a sexual activity, and two counts of sexually communicating with a child. These relate to four alleged child victims - three girls and a boy.

There is an additional charge of Coney intentionally exposing his intimate areas to cause alarm or distress.

The offences are alleged to have occurred between July 1 and 4, 2016 in a Dungannon shopping complex. Standing in the dock yesterday dressed in a blue sweater and jeans, Coney pleaded not guilty to all charges.

His Honour Judge Stephen Fowler stated: "There are young children involved in this case so it should be dealt with as soon as possible."

Allowing for the summer recess, the trial is scheduled for September 11.

A defence barrister applied for anonymity citing concerns for his client's mental health, and therefore a risk to life. He stated there had been a hospital attendance earlier in the week, but accepted Coney had not been detained.

He further accepted having no medical reports available, and asked Judge Fowler to place an interim anonymity order on the case until these could be obtained.

However, prosecuting counsel Simon Reid stated there were no grounds, and such orders can only be imposed on the strength of evidence and not speculation.

Referring to a recent submission by the Press to the Lord Chief Justice, Mr Reid added: "Medical staff did not detain the defendant and it would be their responsibility if there was a risk to life. If the risk was so severe, I would be asking for a remand for assessment."

Judge Fowler stated he was not satisfied there was a real risk and pointed out Coney's family were fully aware of the situation and were in a position to assist if his health deteriorated.

He remanded Coney on continuing bail of £500 on condition he resides at his address and no other without the permission of the court, and not having any device capable of accessing the internet.

He is prohibited from contacting any of the allegedly injured parties or prosecution witnesses and there is to be no contact with anyone aged under 18, save noted exceptions. Coney is not to have anyone under the age of 18 in his motor vehicle, and is not to go within 200 metres of any school, playground or leisure centre or any other centre that will be objectively attractive to children.

He is also banned from the Dungannon and Coalisland areas with the exception of work purposes and to see his GP. If attending the GP, Coney must provide the PSNI with 24 hours' notice.

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