Man accused of over 1,000 sexual offences against his young cousin

A Co Antrim man is accused of carrying out more than 1,000 sexual offences against his young cousin, a court heard.

Monday, 26th April 2021, 5:45 pm
Laganside court complex in Belfast city centre.

The unprecedented scale of alleged historic abuse emerged as he was ordered to stand trial on a series of charges.

The defendant, now aged 54, cannot be named to protect the complainant’s identity.

He appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court to face a total of 39 charges, including multiple counts of gross indecency with a child, buggery and indecent assault.

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The alleged offences were committed against a male cousin over a six-year period between 1979 and 1985.

During a preliminary enquiry hearing the man confirmed that he understood the charges against him, but declined to give evidence or call witnesses at this stage.

Defence solicitor Michael Madden did not contest prosecution submissions that his client has a prima facie case to answer.

On that basis District Judge Fiona Bagnall returned the accused for Crown Court trial on a date to be fixed.

Mr Madden also disclosed that the 39 charges put to the defendant are only specimen counts.

“The alleged offences took place every Friday and on summer holidays over a period of six years,” the lawyer told the court.

“By my calculations there are over a thousand alleged offences, and they are all serious.”

Due to the scale and complexity of the charges Mrs Bagnall agreed to certify for two barristers to represent the man at trial. He was released on continuing bail to appear again at his arraignment.