Man caught in 'paedophile hunter' sting could face death threat, court hears
A man accused of sexually explicit online chats with paedophile hunters posing as children could face a threat to his life if he returns to his hometown, the High Court has heard.
Some people in Coleraine, Co Londonderry may not tolerate Harold Burke being allowed back to live there, it was claimed.
The 59-year-old was granted bail back in January but remains in custody because he cannot secure a required address outside the town.
Opposing a legal bid to vary those terms so he can stay at his Quilly Road home, a Crown lawyer said: "Police believe there would be a threat to his own life."
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.
Burke 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, the court heard.
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, school libraries and other activities associated with children.
The conversations were said to have been explicit and included various graphic requests Burke made to one who used the name "Angel".
Burke exchanged more than 100 messages and offered to meet one of the decoys, it was claimed.
When police arrested the accused and carried out searches at his home ammunition was allegedly discovered in a utility room safe.
Defence lawyers have stressed he must still be presumed innocent.
In January Burke secured bail on condition that he finds an approved address outside Coleraine.
The court heard, however, that he cannot find any other accommodation and wants permission to live at the home inherited from his parents.
Judge Stephen Fowler QC was told police are opposed to him returning to the area.
"The local community hold strong beliefs in relation to persons such as this applicant, and police are concerned they will not tolerate this applicant at any address in Coleraine."
Aaron Thompson, defending, insisted Burke has never been served with any PM1 threat message.
"He's never been attacked at that address, he's never been assaulted at that address," counsel added.
"This was all nine months ago, the dust has surely settled."
Following submissions Judge Fowler adjourned the application to next week.
Belfast Telegraph Digital