Bail denied for man charged with sending sex messages to girl
A senior judge has refused an application to grant bail to a 29-year-old man accused of sending sexually explicit messages to a 14-year-old girl who lives in a children's home.
The application to release Declan Brian Patrick McCann on bail was made yesterday at the High Court in Belfast - but was refused by Mr Justice O'Hara who voiced "very serious concerns" about the allegations.
McCann, from Brook Lodge in Lisburn, is facing a charge of communicating with a child in a sexual manner between June 20 and 25, 2019, and is denying the offence.
Outlining the Crown case to the judge, a prosecuting barrister said the alleged offending emerged on July 7 when a 14-year-old girl told a key worker that a man she knew as Declan McCann had been contacting her on Facebook messenger.
The prosecutor said these messages contained a request to send him pictures of her in her underwear, and she was able to show these messages on her phone between her and someone using a Facebook profile in the name of Declan McCann.
The prosecutor also said that in the course of the text conversations, reference was made to a wooded area near the children's home which "suggests they have met there a number of times" and had "taken intoxicating substances" together.
The Crown's case is that it is made clear in these messages that the girl is 14, while other texts refer to her deleting messages and not telling anyone anything.
The High Court heard that in June, the teenage girl requested a telephone number from McCann, that he supplied a number, and that phone has been linked to McCann after it was used to call the police on three separate occasions over unrelated domestic matters.
This has also been denied by McCann, who claimed he does not have a mobile or a Facebook profile. The Lisburn man has made the case that someone else must have set up a fake profile in his name.
His barrister said: "Anyone could have set this account up on any given day at any time, and begun to engage in a conversation with the injured party."
He also said there is no physical evidence, such as an electronic device or email address, to connect McCann to the account in question, which bore no profile picture.
However, the prosecutor said that despite these claims, the Facebook profile in question not only bears McCann's name, but also his date of birth.
The prosecuting barrister said police objected to McCann being released on bail due to a "likelihood of further offending".
She said that "by his own admission, the applicant is an alcoholic and was previously drug- dependant", and added "there have been 13 arrests for breach of bail in the last 10 years".
Concerns were also raised by the Crown regarding attempts to contact the girl again.
Refusing bail due to concerns over a risk of reoffending, Mr Justice O'Hara said he believed there was a prima facie case against McCann.