Man accused of having online chats with ‘teens’ is to be interviewed in December about new allegations

Coleraine Courthouse3 - Edited
Coleraine Courthouse

POLICE are to interview a Coleraine man accused of having sexually explicit online chats with a so-called paedophile hunting group in England who were posing as 13-year-old girls, about a similar matter, a court heard on November 19.

Harold Burke (58), of Quilly Road, is due to be interviewed in early December, Coleraine Magistrates Court was told.

The defendant has been further remanded in custody until December 17.

A prosecutor said the investigating police officer hopes the full file in the current case will be submitted in January.

At a recent court a PSNI officer objected to bail and said that in July this year police were contacted by a group called Decoy Central which he said was a “so-called paedophile hunting group” based in England.

The officer said the group alleged they had been in contact with Burke who had online conversations with their members who were pretending to be 13-year-old girls.

The officer said the alleged conversations involving Burke were of a “very extreme sexual nature”.

The policeman said officers arrested Burke and items seized included computers.

He said Burke made a ‘no comment’ interview and showed “no sign of remorse” for his alleged actions and was subsequently charged and remanded in custody.

Burke 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.

Meanwhile, in August, the High Court in Belfast was told Burke allegedly exchanged more than 100 messages and offered to meet one of the “decoys”.

When police arrested the accused and carried out searches at his home ammunition was discovered in a utility room safe, the court was told.

At Coleraine Court recently a police officer said “more evidence” had come to light from a group similar to ‘Decoy Central’, this time based in Dublin.

He said information was received from the group on the back of publicity in the case.

The policeman told the recent court that being remanded in custody, where he has been since August, was also “very important” for the defendant’s own safety as he is “very well-known” in Coleraine and Limavady.

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