Belfast Telegraph

Man accused of sending explicit Snapchat to schoolboy believed he was communicating with a woman, court told

Andrew Williamson denies the offences.
Andrew Williamson denies the offences.

By Alan Erwin

A 32-year-old man accused of sexually explicit Snapchat contact with a schoolboy believed he was "role playing" with a woman, the High Court heard today.

Andrew Williamson, of Old Bleach Green in Banbridge, Co Down, allegedly shared photos and messages with the 14-year-old on the social media app.

But his lawyers claimed he never knowingly sent anything to a child during exchanges last month.

Williamson was refused bail on charges of sexual communication with a child, inciting the boy to engage in sexual activity, and breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order. He denies the alleged offences.

Police received a report on May 17 that the youth had been receiving sexually explicit photos and messages on Snapchat from an account linked to the accused, the court heard.

A prosecution lawyer alleged the contact continued despite the boy disclosing his age.

"Some of the messages were asking the 14-year-old to perform a sexual act and he would perform the same act," she said.

Details of the conversations and material allegedly sent were given to police.

Defence barrister Conor Byrne claimed, however, that the alleged victim refused to submit his phone for full examination.

He said Williamson only sent one photo directly during the chats - an image of a car belonging to him.

According to counsel material within his client's "private story" on Snapchat will be central to the case.

Williamson thought he was communicating with a 22-year-old woman named Sarah who requested access to photos he had stored there, it was claimed.

Mr Byrne contended: "A further discussion between them over a prolonged time advanced to what he described as a role playing game.

"This conversation became sexual, it caused him concern and he ended it."

The barrister added: "He never knowingly engaged with a 14-year-old... he was contacted by an individual posing as an adult female."

Denying bail, His Honour Judge Grant said he could not deal with concerns in the case by imposing geographical limits.

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