Belfast Telegraph

Co Antrim teen 'raped schoolgirl and targeted five others,' court hears

The teenager faces a total of 21 charges
The teenager faces a total of 21 charges

By Alan Erwin

A 17-year-old youth allegedly raped a schoolgirl and incited others to take indecent photographs for him, the High Court has heard.

He is charged with carrying out of an online campaign which also involved distributing and disclosing the images without consent.

The Co Antrim teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accused of targeting five girls - including one he allegedly tried to blackmail for cash.

During a bail hearing it emerged that he faces a total of 21 charges said to have been committed between August and November last year.

They include claims of raping one girl and causing another to engage in sexual activity.

The case also involves two counts of inciting girls to take indecent photos of a child, four charges of harassment, and three counts of disclosing a private sexual photo or film of complainants.

He is further accused of possessing and distributing indecent images of a child.

A charge of blackmail relates to allegations that he demanded £500 from one girl with menaces.

All of the alleged victims are believed to be aged between 13 and 16.

Prosecutors opposed the youth's release, arguing there was a risk of re-offending or interference with witnesses.

Defence barrister Thomas McKeever confirmed the charges are denied and stressed his client's clear record.

He said the accused was seeking to live more than 30 miles away from an area of Co Antrim where offences were allegedly committed.

"There are safety concerns should the applicant be granted bail," counsel acknowledged.

The youth's family are prepared to shut off wifi access at their house to ensure he cannot go online, the court heard. 

Mr McKeever also submitted: "This is a vulnerable young man himself."

But adjourning the application, Judge Donna McColgan QC stressed the gravity of the charges.

She said she needed more information from the relevant authorities and on the possibility of removing all internet-capable devices.

The judge added: "These are very, very serious alleged offences, and the way it has been opened I would have serious concerns about the risk of further offences."

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