A judge concerned about slow progress in a case has asked police to come to court to give an update regarding a Broughshane man who is believed to be the first person in Northern Ireland to be charged with ‘paying for sexual services of a person’.
Peter David Clyde (39), of Rocavan Meadow, is accused of committing the offence on January 18 last year.
The charge sheet describes the charge as ‘paying for sexual services of a person’ and the particulars are that the accused ‘obtained sexual services from a person in exchange for payment, the payment having been made or promised by you, contrary to Article 64A of the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008’.
The defendant faces a second charge of ‘attempted sexual communication with a child’ on January 18, 2018.
The specifics of that charge are that ‘being a person aged 18 years or over, for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification intentionally attempted to communicate with a person under 16 years, the communication being sexual or intended to encourage the said person to make a communication that was sexual, and you did not reasonably believe that person was under 16 years or over contrary to Article 3(1) of the Criminal Attempts and Conspiracy (Northern Ireland) 1983 and Article 22A of the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008.’
The case was first mentioned at Ballymena Magistrates Court last November when the accused had a walking stick with him as he entered the dock.
On that date a police officer said he believed he could connect the accused to the charges.
A prosecution lawyer told that hearing it was possible the case could proceed to the Crown Court.
On November 8, District Judge Nigel Broderick released the defendant on £500 bail with conditions that he was not to have any contact with anyone under the age of 16 unless approved by social services apart from unavoidable daily contact; he had to reside at an address approved by police and he was not to access social media or ‘dating sites’.
In December a prosecutor said phones and computers were being examined.
The defendant had been excused from attending the latest mention of the case at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday.
The defendant has yet to enter either guilty or not guilty pleas to the charges.
A prosecutor told Thursday’s court interview transcripts are awaited.
Adjourning the case to March 21, Judge Broderick said it was very frustrating when cases do not move forward.
He said that was why court lists become cluttered.
The judge said he wanted police to attend court to give an update as he said they were “serious charges” but the matter was “dragging on”.
Whilst there have been two previous prosecutions in Northern Ireland under legislation introduced in 2015, both involved attempting to pay for sexual services.
The current matter is understood to be the first in which a person has been charged with ‘paying for sexual services of a person’.