Man, 40, found guilty of having sex with girl of 14

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A 40-year-old Belfast man has been found guilty by a jury of having sex with a 14-year-old girl he met at an 11th night bonfire party.

Stephen Meneice, from Thompson House on the Antrim Road, was convicted by the jury of nine sexual offences committed against the teenager over a two-month period in 2012.

Following a trial which spanned over two weeks, the jury of nine women and three men deliberated for several hours at Belfast Crown Court before finding Meneice guilty of seven counts of sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 16 and two counts of sexual activity with a child.

While some of the verdicts were unanimous, others were by a majority of 10 to two.

Meneice was also acquitted of one charge of making threats to kill the girl.

During the trial, the jury was told the offences were committed on dates between July 11, 2012 and September 15, 2012.

Prosecution lawyer Kate McKay said the offences came to light when the victim told her father about the relationship with Meneice and he alerted police.

During her first interview with police, the teenager said she met Meneice at an 11th night bonfire party and a relationship developed between them.

The girl said Meneice would give her money and cigarettes and that the first time they had sex was at his father’s flat.

Ms McKay told the jury: “She told police that the defendant knew she was 14 at the time as she had told him she was 14.’’

When Meneice was later arrested by police, he accepted that he knew the complainant and had given her alcohol and cigarettes – but he completely denied anything sexual had occurred between them.

However, his version of events was rejected by the jury, who found him guilty of all the sexual offences levelled against him.

Presiding trial judge, Belfast Recorder David McFarland, told Meneice he would be remanded in custody and sentenced next month, following the compilation of both a pre-sentence report and a victim impact report.

As he was led from the dock in handcuffs, Meneice said: “I am not guilty of any of these offences”, adding “f*** the jury”.