Belfast Telegraph

Man in court on male rape charge can't be named

By Deborah McAleese

A judge has banned the media from naming a sex offender with 20 previous convictions, who is accused of raping and imprisoning a man, because it could breach his human rights.

The 24-year-old was arrested in England on Tuesday and appeared before Belfast Magistrates Court yesterday charged with rape, assault and false imprisonment of a man.

The court heard that the alleged offences took place in two Belfast hotels, a hostel and a private address over an eight-month period.

The accused has previous convictions of buggery, gross indecency, indecent assault and possessing indecent images of children, the court was told.

His solicitor, Seamus Leonard, told the district judge that because of the nature of the alleged offences and his previous convictions, there were fears for the man's safety should he be identified by the media.

Mr Leonard said that the man had previously been subject to intimidation and assault and that where he lived had been picketed because of his previous crimes.

He added that should the man be identified there was a possibility that the "administration of justice would be prejudiced".

"His human rights are engaged and there is a threat to his physical safety," Mr Leonard added. District judge Fiona Bagnall agreed to a temporary publicity ban, but ordered further submissions be prepared on why the ban should remain in place long-term.

Applying for bail, Mr Leonard argued that the man and the injured party in the case had been in a relationship and that "there was nothing in any of this that indicated a lack of consent".

Ms Bagnall refused the bail application however, after a police officer said there was a real possibility of reoffending.

Justice committee member Maurice Morrow said he believed that to grant the defendant anonymity was "ludicrous".

Mr Morrow added: "This man has 20 previous convictions for very serious crimes.

"This is simply a case of political correctness going stark, raving mad."

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