Belfast Telegraph

Man accused of sex act in front of child is granted anoynmity

By Staff Reporter

A man due to stand trial for performing a sex act in front of a child in a leisure centre has secured a court order banning the Press from identifying him after threatening to self-harm if his details are published.

The offence allegedly occurred on June 13, 2017, at the council-run Lakeland Forum in Enniskillen.

At his first appearance before Enniskillen Magistrates Court on August 13, lawyers claimed the defendant's life was "at risk by self-harm if his name and address were published".

At that time, the judge refused to hear from the Press and granted an interim order to allow the defence to obtain a medical report. The naming ban was immediately challenged.

The defendant regularly failed to appear at later court dates, despite strict bail.

It further transpired he had not engaged with his lawyers.

Repeated adjournments followed, accompanied by warnings to obtain evidence, with the ban extended at each hearing.

No clinician with knowledge of the defendant was prepared to provide a report, so a psychiatrist was engaged privately.

While this appointment was pending, the defendant twice presented at hospital emergency departments claiming to have self-harmed.

There was no record of one attendance as he "left before assessment", even though this was given as the reason for his second non-appearance in court.

Another absence resulted from an A&E attendance on the morning of the next court date. It was later confirmed the defendant was assessed and discharged within hours.

At that hearing a judge said: "I have grave suspicions on these presentations to A&E. My patience is at a complete end. I have the distinct impression he is avoiding court in the hope the restriction may remain."

He adjourned again, warning that the accused must attend with evidence or else a Bench Warrant would be issued and the identification restriction removed. The defendant appeared next time, and his lawyer outlined the current medical position.

It emerged the defendant first engaged with his GP six weeks after his first court appearance, with no indication of self-harming issues when the order was first sought and granted.

It was also established medical staff at no stage assessed the defendant as requiring admission or detention, a statutory responsibility in the event of risk to life.

Throughout the adjournments, Press repeatedly argued for the restriction to be removed.

At the most recent hearing, the psychiatric report indicated a "heightened" risk. While falling short of the required threshold of real and imminent risk, the judge ruled the reporting restriction should remain.

He remains on £500 bail and must have no unsupervised contact with any child, except his own. He is also banned from entering the Lakeland Forum.

A committal hearing for trial will take place in January.

Belfast Telegraph

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