Court hears so-called paedophile-hunting group ‘videoed’ man at his home

ColeraineCourt9 - Edited

A so-called paedophile-hunting group attended the Coleraine home of a man “and videoed him,” a defence solicitor told a court on Monday.

Harold Burke (59), of Quilly Road, is charged with two counts of attempted sexual communication with a child and two of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

He is also accused of possessing 370 rounds of .22 ammunition in suspicious circumstances. The charges relate to July and August lat year.

At Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday, where Burke appeared via video link from Maghaberry Prison where he has been on remand on the charges, defence solicitor Ciaran Shiels said one of the police objections to bail was in relation to concerns for the “safety” of the defendant in the community.

Mr Shiels said Burke had “never received a threat” and said the “only difficulties he encountered” were last year when a “hunter group attended and videoed him, with his elderly mother, at his home”.

Mr Shiels said the defendant had been interviewed in December in relation to new allegations made by a “Dublin-based hunter group”.

A prosecution lawyer said the case file was “nearing submission” but there were still phone triages pending including a mobile phone “from Scotland” and a mobile phone was also coming from Gardai.

The prosecutor said a full transcript of interviews was also nearing completion and it was anticipated the file could be in within three weeks.

Mr Shiels said it “seems that the goalposts are continually shifting” and said the defendant should be released on bail.

District Judge Liam McNally said he was concerned that Burke had spent give months in custody which was the equivalent of a ten months sentence but on the basis of the defendant’s record the likelihood of offending was “very strong”.

The defendant asked to speak but the speaking request was refused by the judge who said if the full file in the case is not received by February 11 he would grant bail.

Burke was remanded in continuing custody until then.

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