Belfast Telegraph

Schoolgirl sexually assaulted on Bangor bus, court told

A Northern Ireland schoolgirl was sexually assaulted by an 85-year-old man as she travelled home on a bus, the High Court has been told.

She "froze" with fear after being wedged into position on a seat at the front of the Bangor to Holywood service, prosecutors said.

Her alleged attacker claimed to have no memory of the incident because he said he had been drinking at a British Legion Christmas dinner.

Thomas Todd, with an address at Woodstock Road, Belfast, faces a charge of sexual assault on a child over the incident which took place on December 14.

His application for bail was refused after the judge ruled that releasing him would pose too great a risk to other children.

During the hearing, Todd was said to have got onto the bus and sat at the front beside the 12-year-old girl even though plenty of other seats ont he vehicle were free.

The court heard he then allegedly put his hand on her knee and began rubbing her leg.

Kate McKay, prosecuting, said she used a school folder to block his attempts to move further up.

The pensioner is also alleged to have grabbed the girl's hand and tried to pull it towards him.

Ms McKay said: "He made comments to her such as 'You're a lovely girl, I'm sure all the boys are after you'."

He was also alleged to have told the girl he hoped to see her again next time.

"This girl said she was scared and froze. She didn't know what to do," Ms McKay added.

"She has been traumatised by this and hasn't been able to travel on a bus since."

Police were alerted after the schoolgirl got home and told her mother what had happened.

It was disclosed during the hearing that CCTV footage of the incident has now been recovered and, according to prosecution counsel, it corroborates the girl's account of what happened.

Opposing the application for bail, Ms McKay said there was nothing to suggest Todd was in ill-health.

Counsel for Todd argued that keeping him in custody would not be the best way to get him any help required.

But refusing bail, Mr Justice Weatherup said the alleged incident must have been frightening for the girl.

He said: "I do not feel I should put young children at risk by allowing him to be released."

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