Boy (17) appears at Ballymena Court accused of sexual offences against five teenage girls

Ballymena Court.

A 17-year-old from County Antrim is charged with a large number of sexual offences regarding five teenage girls, including two aged just 13.

The boy, who cannot be named because of his age, appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday via video link from Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre where he was remanded previously on 21 charges.

The charges include rape, engaging in sexual activity with a child, blackmail, distributing indecent photos of children, possessing such photos, inciting children to take incident photos, disclosing private sexual photos, harassment and unauthorised access to computer material.

It is alleged that after a girl (16) had taken a pregnancy test the youth grabbed her by the throat before raping her in a bathroom.

A prosecutor said bail was opposed and a police officer told the court of other incidents including one were a girl (13) had been sent an indecent image by the defendant via Snapchat showing his private parts and when he told her she knew where she lived she felt pressured to sent a photo which the boy then sent to the girl’s mum via Facebook.

The court was told the defendant had been in a relationship with a girl (17) and uploaded images to social media saying: “I have ruined your life”.

In another incident, a girl (13), with a learning disability was contacted on Snapchat and sent a photo of the defendant naked and he later contacted her when she was playing the online game ‘Fortnite’ and told her he knew she slept with her “blinds open”.

It is alleged the youth then tried to blackmail the girl by asking for £500 or else he would send her mother indecent images.

The police officer said: “This young man’s live is basically lived online”.

The officer said the defendant had a level of knowledge of the internet and knew how to access software.

During an interview, the officer said the boy had told police: “All young girls nowadays are sl*ts.”

The policewoman said there were at least two other potential complainants.

A defence barrister said his client denied rape and had insisted any sexual contact was consensual.

The lawyer said exchanging explicit photos was becoming “more prevalent” and added that as regards his client allegedly contacting mothers that was what was “rather crudely termed ‘revenge porn’.”

The lawyer said the defendant had autism and ADHD.

Refusing bail, District Judge Nigel Broderick said the defendant faced 21 serious charges involving a number of complainants under the age of 18.

Two of the complainants were 13 and at least one had a learning disability and would be categorised as being “particularly vulnerable”, the judge added.

Judge Broderick said the defendant had made certain admissions, accepting in interviews, that he had exchanged indecent images and that he had contacted, on at least two occasions, mothers of girls in what had been described by the defence as ‘revenge porn’.

The judge said the case was aggravated by an allegation of blackmail and there was also a rape charge.

Judge Broderick said that after the defendant was interviewed and previously released on police bail it was believed he then made contact with friends of a complainant even though he was barred from accessing the internet.

The judge said the boy had an “obsession” with the internet “and not for good purposes” and had also made concerning remarks about girls.

Judge Broderick was concerned the youth would commit further offences and contact witnesses and remanded him in custody to December 27.

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