A High Court judge has ruled that a man accused of sexually abusing a 14 year-old schoolboy he met on Grindr must remain in custody. The 24 year-old, who has not been named over concerns he may take his own life, has denied four counts of sexual activity including penetration between July and October last year. The Belfast man has also been accused of breaking a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) after he failed to notify authorities about his new employment in a bar.
Crown lawyer Kate McKay opposed the man’s bail over fears he may contact the boy again: “He will potentially re-engage with the boy who thought in his young mind that there was a relationship ongoing with this man.”
McKay highlighted the significance of the boy’s age saying that: “At 14 years of age he is unable to consent in law to any sexual activity.”
Mr Justice McAlinden refused bail after labelling the Belfast man a “high-risk sex offender’, telling the court that he poses a “very, very high risk of re-offending, potentially involving the sexual exploitation of very young people”.
The High Court judge also cited the man’s violation of his SOPO in conjunction with the refusal of bail: “He (the defendant) has flouted his SOPO on a number of matters including gaining employment (at a location) which obviously is one of the more popular venues for young people in Belfast”.
The 24 year-old’s defence lawyer Mark McGarrity stated that the accused is contesting the charges, saying that his client maintains that he was “led to believe by the complainant that he was of an age where he could consent”.
The defendant met the teen on Grindr. The popular gay dating app for adults has recently been exposed over a concerning security breach. The flaw could potentially allow users to pinpoint the exact location and personal details of other people.
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