A 25-year-old man accused of raping a two-week-old baby has been denied bail at Newry Magistrates Court.
The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the infant, was denied bail by the court on the ground that there was a high risk that he would reoffend.
The court also heard that there was a likelihood he would interfere or intimidate the key witness -namely the baby’s mother - and the prosecution decreed that there was a risk that he would abscond from the authorities.
The defendant, who appeared in court via video link, is accused of sexual assault of a child by penetration and grievous bodily harm with intent on September 29 this year after an incident was reported in Annalong this year.
He denies the charges, although he accepted that he had sole custody of the child on the night in question.
Prosecution, in objecting to the bail application, outlined that the address proffered by the accused as the bail address was unsuitable because it was in the Republic of Ireland, and therefore outside of the PSNI’s area of jurisdiction.
The prosecution also outlined their fears that the accused would “interfere” with the key witness - his ex-partner - in the form of threats and intimidation, and implored District Judge Eamon King to deny bail on these grounds.
The prosecution stated there were suggestions that there was a history of domestic violence in the relationship between the accused and his ex partner.
Prosecution articulated their concerns about the potential for further offence from the accused though decided to withhold the “grotesque” further details from the open court.
The prosecutor said that “given the seriousness of the charge” and the potential for public disorder North and South of the border because of “demonstrable public outrage” on social media over the “highly emotive” case could “crystallise” upon a bail release.
A PSNI detective told the court that the police had further objections to the address being used for bail, as it was was the home of the accused’s alcoholic father, who was unemployed due to ill-health and would therefore be unable to “keep tabs” on him.
The police officer also said that they had grave concerns about the accused residing at this address, as other children would be visiting his father.
A defence solicitor said that the address, although in the Republic, was “close enough to Newry so that he could report to Newry Police Station every day.”
The solicitor added that his client was “entitled to the presumption of innocence and entitled to the assumption of bail,” before adding that the accused’s separated parents were willing to put up €10,000 between them as a surety.
“His family are behind him and if any child were to visit that address not only would he be arrested but his family would lose the €10,000 they’ve put up.”.
Judge Eamon King, in summation, said the accused “has conceded that the child was in his sole custody whilst the injuries were sustained.”
The District Judge then informed the accused’s solicitor that he was denying bail on the grounds outlined by the prosecution: that there was a risk of the accused absconding, that there was a high risk of witness intimidation and that there was a risk for further offences.
The case was adjourned for four weeks until December 5