Bail refused to man in abduction case

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A girl at the centre of an investigation into alleged child abduction in Londonderry may be involved in prostitution, the High Court heard today.

Prosecutors expressed the concern about one of two females, aged 13 and 14, who went missing from a care home for up to two days.

Details emerged as bail was refused to a 29-year-old man accused of defying a caution to stay away from them.

Christopher Harley, of Kular Court in Londonderry, is charged with abducting a child in care on October 15.

Earlier that week he had been served with a warning notice after the two girls were found in his flat at 4.30am, the court heard.

It was alleged that at least one of them was given alcohol while at the property.

Four days later social workers again out looking for the girls discovered them with a man at a car park in Victoria Market.

Based on their descriptions that man was allegedly Harley.

Mr Maguire said the girls spoke of regularly meeting with him and receiving gifts and alcohol.

“One of the girls is described as particularly vulnerable and frequently absconds from the children’s home,” the barrister added.

“There is a concern she is engaging in prostitution.”

Harley is not charged with any offences linked to those fears.

During police interviews the accused provided an alibi of being at his father’s house watching horror movies during the two-day period the girls were said to be missing.

Defence counsel Joe Brolly argued there was nothing to connect his client to the charge.

He said: “This girl, police say, is acting as a prostitute and could be propositioning men all over the car park. What’s the evidence that it’s him?”

Mr Brolly stressed Harley’s case that he never saw the girls again after the abduction warning noticed was served on him on October 10.

The accused had only invited them back to his apartment on that occasion for a drink after being told by one of them she was 19, Mr Justice Deeny was told.

“This case is based entirely on prejudice and suspicion,” the defence barrister contended.

But denying bail, the judge ruled there were no reasonable grounds had been advanced to allow release from custody.