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Judge allows minor change to rape accused’s bail but refuses reporting ban

Court heard the accused - who is charged with raping, falsely imprisoning and attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to a woman - claims to be a 'Freeman of the Land' and does not recognise the legal system

Newry courthouse police

A judge has permitted a minor variation to bail conditions for a County Down man charged with rape but rubbished an application for reporting restrictions.

Paul Conrad Wilson (51) from Castlevennon Road, Katesbridge, claims to be a ‘Freeman of the Land’ and does not recognise the legal system.

He is charged with raping, falsely imprisoning and attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to a woman between February 1 and 3, 2021.

In addition, he allegedly administered a substance to stupefy or overpower and damaged her mobile phone.

Finally, on February 8, 2021, Wilson is charged with possessing cannabis.

At a recent hearing at Banbridge Magistrates’ Court sitting in Newry, defence lawyers requested the removal of three aspects of Wilson’s bail, including removal of a ban on entering Belfast for consultations at his solicitor’s office.

Wilson always wanted his electronic tag removed along with breath testing for alcohol.

Opposing all, a detective said: “The complainant resides in Belfast. She is vulnerable and in fear of the defendant. Consultations can take place online or by phone. His lawyers could also meet him outside Belfast.”

Strongly objecting to removing the tag, he stated: “We believe there is a risk he will fail to surrender and may try to evade justice. The defendant is facing the possibility of a long custodial sentence. The tag is the only condition which gives police notification that he is residing at his address or not during curfew times.”

Wilson, said the detective, failed to attend court on April 7, resulting in an arrest warrant, and “has previously stated he is a Freeman and doesn’t believe in the powers of court. The tag is vital and may prevent him fleeing.”

In respect of breath testing, the detective said the complainant has reported Wilson was “under the influence of alcohol when the alleged serious sexual offences occurred. If this condition is removed, he may become intoxicated and there could be a greater risk of further offences against the vulnerable injured party or the public in general”.

A defence barrister stressed there has been no suggestion of his client contacting the alleged injured party at any time since his arrest last year.

He also contended the electronic tag does not in itself prevent Wilson fleeing, which he has not done,.

The defence pointed out breath testing is based on the suggestion he “may have been under the influence of drink at some stage over the three days the alleged offences occurred”.

The issue of the arrest warrant came about because while Wilson “was not in the courtroom, he was in the building.”

District Judge Eamon King agreed to vary the ban on entering Belfast, but only for attendance with solicitors who must give police 24 hours notice of appointments.

Wilson must travel only to their offices and leave immediately afterwards “without any deviation”.

Refusing the other requests, Judge King said: “I’m satisfied the conditions are proportionate, given the charges faced.”

In concluding, the defence applied for a ban on press coverage as, “I understand there has been some adverse reporting in this case. Press have taken an interest and there is a risk of potentially prejudicing a fair trial.”

Judge King wasted no time in replying: “Your application is declined given the history of what has gone on in this case over the last 15 months.”

The case is due for mention on June 9.

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