Belfast Telegraph

Coleraine man accused of online sex chats with adults who posed as children

By Nevin Farrell

A Coleraine man who allegedly had sexually explicit online chats with so-called paedophile hunters posing as 13-year-old girls has been further remanded in custody.

Harold Burke (58), whose address was given as Quilly Road, appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court yesterday via video-link from Maghaberry Prison, where he has been on remand.

A prosecutor told yesterday’s court that a full file in the case is not due until October.

A defence solicitor said bail had previously been refused at Belfast High Court.

Burke is charged with two counts of attempted sexual communication with a child and two of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

He is also accused of possessing 370 rounds of .22 ammunition in suspicious circumstances.

The defendant had his case adjourned until October 8.

In August, the High Court was told that Burke allegedly exchanged more than 100 messages and offered to meet one of the “decoys”.

Burke was arrested in July after police were contacted by a group called Decoy Central.

Crown lawyer Catherine Chasemore told the High Court in August that information was supplied about his alleged online conversations with two people portraying themselves as schoolgirls. According to the prosecution, however, they were really adult volunteers acting as decoys.

During the alleged exchanges they clearly purported to be aged 13, making references to their parents and school libraries.

The conversations were explicit and included various graphic requests from Burke, Mrs Chasemore claimed.

She said the accused offered to meet one of the decoys, although no confirmed arrangements were made. Copies of the alleged chat logs were given to the PSNI, with 119 messages screen-saved.

When police arrested the accused and carried out searches at his home, ammunition was discovered in a utility room safe, the court was told.

Defence counsel stressed at the High Court last month that Burke must still be presumed innocent.

Belfast Telegraph

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