Sex offender ‘breached ban by phoning 13-year-old girl’

Court

Court

A convicted sex offender allegedly breached a ban on approaching children by making phone contact with a 13-year-old girl in England, a court has heard.

Police also claimed Belfast man Dale Walsh obtained four more mobiles in a week after his original phone was seized.

The 21-year-old, with a previous address at an Ormeau Road hostel, is charged with breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) by attempting to communicate with the schoolgirl.

The alleged offence was committed on January 26.

Appearing before Belfast Magistrates’ Court, Walsh sat head-bowed throughout the hearing.

Defence lawyer Pat Kelly argued that it had been premature to charge his client before establishing who made the phone contact.

But an investigating officer said she had seized Walsh’s mobile and confirmed that a number in it belonged to the 13-year-old girl in England.

Detectives have visited her family as part of the case, the court heard.

Opposing bail, the officer claimed Walsh will not abide by any conditions.

Revealing that the SOPO was only imposed last October, she said there were continued concerns about mobiles being used to contact children.

“In the last seven days, from when I seized his phone, he has managed to acquire four further phones,” the officer added.

All of those devices are also set to be examined.

Mr Kelly insisted there was no prohibition on owning a phone within the terms of the SOPO.

However, the application for bail had to be put on hold after police confirmed the hostel accommodation was no longer available.

District Judge Liam McNally said: “There’s no address at the moment, so I’m simply going to remand him in custody for a week.”