THE Herald and other media continue to be prohibited from identifying a Fermanagh man charged with sexual activity in the presence of a boy, despite numerous adjournments for medical evidence, coupled with non-attendances of the accused.
The position has been repeatedly challenged by the press at Enniskillen Magistrates Court, but the interim restriction was again extended at the fifth of six listings to date.
Aged in his thirties, the accused is alleged to have intentionally engaged in activity for sexual gratification, knowing this could be observed by the boy and aware he was a child.
The offence relates to an alleged incident on 13 June 2017, at The Lakeland Forum, Enniskillen.
At first appearance on 13 August, a defending lawyer claimed his client’s life would be at risk from suicide or self-harm, if his details were published.
No substantive evidence was submitted but the restriction was agreed on an interim basis, for a medical report to be obtained.
When the case returned on 17 September, the accused – despite bail terms – failed to attend. There was no report and he had not engaged with his lawyers.
The accused again failed to appear a week later, when lawyers claimed he was “in hospital” having allegedly self-harmed the previous day.
Another adjournment until 3 October was permitted, with the accused “to attend with evidence.”
He appeared over an hour late and without documentation.
Instead, four weeks were sought for a medical report, but the press objected as this was the reason for the first adjournment in August.
It also transpired the alleged self-harm incident involved the accused presenting at A&E the day before he was due in court, but left before being treated. Proof was requested by the court but the defence said attendance was “not recorded”.
Another adjournment was granted until 17 October for medical proofs, with the restriction extended.
But that too failed, as the accused was absent. Defence lawyers told the court he presented at A&E during the early hours, and “awaits assessment”.
Again, press requested the restriction was lifted pointing out four of five listings over nine weeks were specifically for evidence, with nothing provided.
The judge remarked, “I have grave suspicions on these presentations to A&E. My patience is at a complete end. I have the distinct impression he is avoiding court in the hope the restriction may remain.”
He adjourned again but warned the accused must attend, with proofs or a Bench Warrant would be issued and the restriction removed.
The accused remains on £500 bail and must have no unsupervised contact with any child, except his own. He is also banned from entering the Lakeland Forum, Enniskillen.
Posted: 4:47 pm November 3, 2018