Teenager accused of aiding in alleged city centre rape

editorial image

An 18-year-old man has been remanded in custody charged with aiding and abetting a suspected rape in Belfast city centre.

The accused, who cannot be identified, faces a further count of administering a substance with intent to stupefy or overpower the alleged victim so another teenager could have sex with her.

The charges relate to an incident in areas surrounding Victoria Square in the early hours of September 28.

A 17-year-old youth has already been charged with sexual assault as part of the same case.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard the complainant has no recollection of events after she was in a nightclub earlier that night.

Police said CCTV footage shows her encountering the two accused on nearby streets.

A detective claimed the 18-year-old defendant can be seen producing a substance or package and leaning over towards her face.

“You can see that her head moves left or right and her eyes are fixed; it’s very, very obvious there’s been some reaction,” he said.

It was claimed that the man did not offer or seek any help during the incident.

But a defence solicitor argued they could be the actions of someone who had snorted a substance voluntarily.

He stressed the younger accused told police any sexual contact was consensual.

The youth and alleged victim can be seen on CCTV footage kissing, according to the lawyer.

He argued that the complainant then performs a sex act on the 17-year-old.

However, the detective responded: “I don’t believe the complainant could have consented to anything, given the level of reaction to the substance.”

Refusing bail to the 18-year-old man, District Judge Fiona Bagnall said: “At this stage I consider there’s a danger to the public.”

She remanded him in custody to appear again by video-link in four weeks time.

As the accused was being led back to the cells relatives and friends packed into the public gallery expressed their support, shouting: “Keep your head up.”

Imposing a ban on his name being reported, Mrs Bagnall cited the risk it could lead to the “jigsaw identification” of his 17-year-old co-accused, who appeared in court on Saturday.