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Belfast Christmas market chef charged with attempting to contact child for sex

Niko Mueller
Niko Mueller
John Toner

By John Toner

A chef arrested following a paedophile hunter group sting will spend Christmas behind bars after being charged with attempting to contact a child for sex.

German national Niko Mueller was working at the Belfast Christmas market in the grounds of the City Hall before allegedly being lured to west Belfast by the group last Monday.

Mueller (33) was arrested in the early hours of Monday morning and appeared at the city's Magistrates' Court on Friday charged with two counts of attempting to contact a child for sex. His solicitor says it was a case of entrapment.

Cops opposed his bail application based on the risk of flight to Germany and the alleged potential for offending whilst on bail.

A solicitor on behalf Mueller told the court: "This is a classic case of entrapment of an individual with very little English.

"Give this man the benefit of the doubt," added the lawyer who said the only evidence against Mueller comes from the vigilante group.

"One of them posed as a child online and established contact with him, lured him to a location in Belfast and filmed him being subjected to a mock interrogation, a mock trial, they filmed the whole thing. It's very distressing viewing.

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"He came to Northern Ireland a couple of weeks ago to work as a chef at the Christmas market. That expires, as does his accommodation, this coming Monday.

"His employer informs me he is desperate to return to Germany."

Despite the pleas on his behalf, district judge Fiona Bagnall said she was unable to grant bail for Mueller as attempts to establish his criminal record, if any, in Germany were still ongoing and could take up to 10 weeks or longer due to the holidays.

She told him: "It is regrettable but I have no structure around which to grant bail."

Mueller was remanded in custody to reappear at Belfast Magistrates' via video link on January 2.

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