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Belfast student accused of raping child to stand trial


Thompson was released on bail pending a trial.

Thompson was released on bail pending a trial.

Thompson was released on bail pending a trial.

A Belfast student with learning difficulties is to stand trial accused of raping a child, a judge has ordered.

James Thompson, 19, appeared before Belfast Magistrates' Court for the first time to face a total of five charges on Thursday.

They include rape, three counts of sexual assault and inciting a child aged under 13 to engage in sexual activity.

The alleged offences were committed against a girl in 2014.

Thompson, of Beechmount Avenue in Belfast, spoke only to confirm he understood the charges.

During the preliminary enquiry hearing a defence lawyer did not contest prosecution submissions that he has a case to answer.

As Thompson's mother watched on from the public gallery, he declined to call witnesses or give evidence at this stage in proceedings.

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District Judge Liam McNally ruled that the accused is to be returned for trial at Belfast Crown Court at a later date.

Thompson's solicitor applied to have two barristers represent him due to the seriousness and complexity of the case.

He said: "He's a young man with learning difficulties, we expect there will have to be a psychological report before the trial commences.

"This will be a difficult case with very serious charges."

After studying papers Judge McNally agreed to certify for two counsel, citing the mental health issues.

He told Thompson: "I'm releasing you on your own bail to appear at the Crown Court on a date to be fixed."

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