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Man accused of sending explicit Snapchats to child refused removal of electronic tag

A Banbridge man accused of sending sexually explicit photos and messages to a child on Snapchat has been refused a bail variation to remove his electronic tag.

The 32-year-old had previously been granted a variation after court heard that he had been using his connections in China to obtain PPE which he sold to pharmacists all across Northern Ireland “in the fight against Covid-19”.

Andrew Williamson, of Old Bleach Green, is charged with engaging in sexual communication with a child, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

All of the alleged offences are said to have been committed on May 17, of last year.

Court previously heard claims that police received a report that the alleged victim had been receiving sexually explicit photos and messages on Snapchat from an account linked to Williamson.

“Some of the messages were asking the 14-year-old to perform a sexual act and he would perform the same act,” the court heard, with claims that the contact continued despite the boy disclosing his age.

It is the defence case that Williamson thought he was communicating with a 22-year-old woman named Sarah.

At Banbridge Magistrates’, sitting at Lisburn, on Thursday, defence solicitor Conleth Downey made an application on his client’s behalf for a variation in bail, namely the removal of his electronic tag.

He stated that Williamson had been on bail since November of last year with no breaches reported.

Mr Downey also commented that the defendant had “been out of the jurisdiction several times and at all times has returned”.

The solicitor elaborated that some of these related to Williamson’s involvement in the selling of PPE to businesses and pharmacists.

Opposing the variation, prosecution stated: “There are concerns that he is a risk to the public. At a time when police resources are being stretched it would be difficult to keep tabs of him.”

A constable submitted it “would be difficult to control and monitor this man” if his tag was removed.

Refusing the variation, District Judge Amanda Brady stated: “It’s not a good enough reason for him to want to remove it just because he has had it on for a while.”

Williamson’s case was adjourned to July 16 for a Preliminary Enquiry date to be fixed.

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