Businessman to stand trial on sex charges

The High Court in Belfast
The High Court in Belfast

A businessman is to stand trial accused of sex offences against a teenage boy following social media contact, a judge ruled on Thursday.

Laszlo Futo appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court charged with four offences against an alleged victim he met through his car valeting operation.

The 31-year-old Hungarian national, with a previous address at Inverary Drive in the city, faces two counts of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.

He is further accused sexually touching a boy aged under 16 and inciting the child to engage in sexual activity.

The alleged offences were committed at locations in Belfast between December 2013 and August 2015.

It was previously claimed that the defendant and the boy exchanged messages on Facebook and traded photographs through Snapchat.

As Futo entered the dock for a preliminary enquiry, prosecutors applied to have him returned for trial.

Defence counsel Declan Quinn raised no objections when it was submitted that his client has a case to answer.

Speaking through an interpreter, Futo declined to call witnesses or give evidence at this stage in the case.

However, Mr Quinn argued that the accused should be represented by two barristers due to the seriousness of the allegations and risk of imprisonment if convicted.

“It involves alleged offences against a child,” he said.

Mr Quinn also referred to issues about computer material in the case, saying there had been “a potential loss of evidence from Facebook and Snapchat”.

Deputy District Judge Laua Ievers said she would consider the bid for two defence counsel.

However, she confirmed that Futo is to be committed for trial at Belfast Crown Court on a date to be fixed.

The accused was released on continuing bail to return when those proceedings get underway.