Ban on revealing identity of man accused of raping a child lifted

Laganside Courts, Belfast.  Pic: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker 22/5/2013
Laganside Courts, Belfast. Pic: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker 22/5/2013

A ban on revealing the identity of a Co Antrim man accused of sexually grooming and raping a child has been lifted, it emerged today.

Temporary reporting restrictions were imposed at Belfast Magistrates’ Court amid fears 33-year-old defendant Jonathan Woodside is under threat.

But a judge later refused to make a full anonymity order based on the principle of open justice.

Woodside, of Whitewell Road in Newtownabbey, is charged with three counts of rape, causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, and two sexual assaults.

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.

Defence lawyers secured an interim order to stop publication of any details of his identity on March 21.

The prohibition was based on submissions that a threat has been made against their client.

A district judge then directed that the press must be given an opportunity to challenge the reporting restrictions.

It has now emerged that an application to continue with the reporting restrictions was refused in April.

Despite acknowledgment of the alleged threat, the court held that it did not outweigh the right to open justice.

Woodside was not present in court today as his case was mentioned again.

His barrister said that he had been excused due to the circumstances surrounding the criminal proceedings.

A prosecution lawyer confirmed that a report from the police e-crime division was still to be obtained.

The case was adjourned to next week, for an application to vary bail conditions