Missing schoolgirl found in roof space of 'child abductor', court hears
A schoolgirl who went missing from her Co Antrim home was found in her alleged abductor's attic, a court has heard.
Police also discovered the 14-year-old in her underwear after breaking down a locked bedroom door on a separate occasion, a judge was told.
Details emerged as Dale Walsh contested two charges of child abduction by claiming he never detained her.
The 19-year-old defendant of Mulderg Drive in Newtownabbey was arrested on New Year's Day.
Belfast Magistrates Court heard the girl and her 10-year-old brother both spent a night away from home before the two alleged abductions.
Their father told how he believed they had gone for a sleep-over at the home of his daughter's friend. He said he spoke to a man on the phone, believing it was the friend's father, before allowing them to go.
His daughter then went missing for the first time on December 31 last year.
Giving evidence in court, he said he went out searching with his young son who directed him to the address where they had previously stayed.
Walsh answered but denied his daughter was inside and vowed to go looking for her, the court heard.
Eventually the girl was located and returned home early the next morning.
The PSNI officer who discovered her said he had gone to Walsh's flat and found a bedroom door locked.
At first the defendant claimed it was used by his brother, but eventually agreed to let police force it open.
"There was a young girl in the room in her underwear. That female I now know to be (the alleged victim)," the officer said.
Under cross-examination by defence counsel Richard McConkey, he confirmed the door had been locked from the inside.
Police were alerted again on January 1 when the girl went missing for a second time, this time with her dog.
Another constable told the court he went back to Walsh's apartment and found the animal there.
According to that officer, the accused repeatedly denied the girl was there. But he found her in the roof space after using a set of ladders, the court was told.
"I climbed into the roof space and located the young girl. She was hiding between rafters," the officer said.
Seeking a ruling that Walsh has no case to answer, Mr McConkey claimed there was no evidence his client detained the girl on either occasion.
Acknowledging the case appeared "extremely unsavoury", he contended that the child locked herself in the bedroom and hid out herself in the roof space.
Referring to the earlier incident when the girl and her brother spent a night away from home, the barrister added: "On the evidence of their father he didn't seem to have done any checks to see where she was."
Although District Judge George Conner noted that the girl does not see herself as a victim, he refused the defence application.
He was then told Walsh has decided against giving evidence in the case.
Reserving judgment in the contest, Mr Conner said he would give his verdict next week.
Walsh was released on continuing bail until then.