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'Towpath rapist' accused of attacking two girls bailed

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Gerard McKenna

Gerard McKenna

Gerard McKenna

A shop worker accused of sex attacks on two girls last Christmas has been freed on bail.

Gerard McKenna (27) is alleged to have attacked the children on Belfast's Lagan Towpath on December 23.

He was freed after a prosecuting lawyer told District Judge Amanda Brady that bail was consented to with conditions including an alcohol ban.

McKenna, from Rockville Street in the Falls Road area of Belfast, and co-accused Paul Sheridan (23, right), from Hillfoot Crescent in Ballynahinch, are each charged with the rape and sexual assault of a female child under 13 on December 23 last year.

McKenna is further charged with three counts of sexually assaulting a second female child aged 15, as well as tendering counterfeit currency, stealing alcohol worth £2.99 from a Spar shop and two counts of making a threat to kill.

According to the charge sheet detailing the offences, Sheridan made no reply after he was cautioned.

McKenna, meanwhile, allegedly declared "shove it up your hole" when the rape offence was put to him and described the other charges as "madness" and "not true".

When the pair appeared in court on Boxing Day last year, a detective sergeant said McKenna held the hand of a 12-year-old before kissing, sexually assaulting and having sex with her.

The officer continued that the defendant allegedly stole alcohol from an off-licence where he also bought beer using a counterfeit £20 note. It was after that incident that he is alleged to have sexually assaulted one of the girls.

"After acquiring alcohol, they went to Belfast by train where sexual assaults occurred," claimed the officer.

When McKenna appeared in court on Friday via videolink from prison, defence counsel Michael Boyd said release conditions had been agreed.

Freeing the defendant on bail, district judge Brady ordered him to have no contact with the alleged victims or witnesses, banned him from drinking alcohol and ordered him to report to police three times a week.

Belfast Telegraph