Belfast Telegraph

Belfast man accused of plying schoolgirl with drugs and raping her says any contact was consensual

By Alan Erwin

A man accused of drugging and raping a 14-year-old girl in Belfast must remain in custody, a judge ruled on Tuesday.

The 29-year-old defendant, who cannot be identified, was refused bail amid concerns he would not adhere to release conditions.

He faces eight charges related to an alleged sex attack on the schoolgirl at a location in the west of the city in May.

They include three counts of rape, two sexual assaults and a further sexual assault by penetration.

The man is also accused of possessing cocaine and administering a substance to the alleged victim with the intention of stupefying or overpowering her to enable sexual activity with her.

He denies the charges, claiming any sexual contact was consensual.

As the accused appeared before Belfast Magistrates' Court via prison video-link, his barrister argued that he could be released under strict conditions.

Counsel also insisted there would be no contact with the complainant and cited the potential delay in the case.

District Judge George Conner was also told three other suspects have been questioned but not yet charged as part of the same investigation.

Mr Conner acknowledged the inquiry was likely to take time, putting back the date of any trial.

But denying the application, he said: "I'm afraid I form the view that there's just too high a risk of non-compliance with bail terms."

He ordered the accused to be remanded in custody for another four weeks.

The decision prompted an outburst from dismayed relatives of the defendant in the public gallery.

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