Man to stand trial over child rape and sexual grooming

Court

Court

A man is to stand trial accused of sexually grooming and raping a child in Belfast, a judge has ordered.

Jonathan Woodside, 33, faces charges related to an alleged campaign of abuse.

His identity was previously protected due to fears he is under threat.

But reporting restrictions were lifted earlier this year based on the principles of open justice.

Woodside, formerly of Whitewell Road in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, is charged with three counts of rape, causing or inciting a child under 16 to engage in sexual activity, and sexual assault.

He is further alleged to have met a child following sexual grooming and been in possession of an indecent photograph of a child.

The charges all relate to dates during 2013 and 2014.

Appearing before Belfast Magistrates’ Court for a preliminary enquiry hearing, Woodside entered the dock with the aid of a crutch.

He spoke to confirm that he understood the alleged offences.

Defence counsel Luke Curran did not oppose prosecution submissions that his client has a prima facie case to answer.

Woodside declined to give evidence or call any witnesses during the brief hearing.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall granted an application to have him returned for trial at Belfast Crown Court on a date to be fixed.

Woodside was released on continuing bail, with conditions not to contact the alleged victim and a ban on unsupervised contact with children under the age of 16.