Belfast Telegraph

Londonderry man must hand over devices to police after 'chats' with paedophile hunters

By Alan Erwin

A man accused of sexually explicit online chats with Northern Ireland paedophile hunters posing as children must allow police to search and seize any internet devices from his accommodation, a High Court judge ordered today.

Harold Burke, 59, was also banned from unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 16.

The orders formed part of terms under which Burke, of Quilly Road in Coleraine, Co Londonderry, was granted bail.

But he will only be released once an approved address is found outside his hometown.

Burke faces charges of attempted sexual communication with a child and inciting a person believed to be under 16 to engage in sexual activity.

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

A previous court heard he was arrested after police were contacted in July last year by a group called Decoy Central.

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.

It was claimed they clearly portrayed themselves as being aged 13 during exchanges, making references to their parents and school libraries.

The conversations were explicit and included various graphic requests from Burke, a Crown lawyer contended.

Burke allegedly exchanged more than 100 messages and offered to meet one of the decoys.

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

Defence lawyers have stressed he must still be presumed innocent.

Barrister Aaron Thompson said: "He lives a fairly solitary life, he's left to plough his own furrow."

At the renewed application for release from custody a series of strict conditions were set out.

Lord Justice Deeny agreed to grant bail to an address to be approved by police.

Prohibiting Burke from entering Coleraine or Limavady, the judge adding that officers are to be allowed to enter any property where he is residing in order to search and seize any internet-enabled device.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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