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Donaghcloney man (72) charged with sexual communication with child

A seventy-two-year-old County Down man has been charged with attempted sexual communication with a child.

Mervyn Hanna from Hall Road, Donaghcloney, is accused of intentionally attempting to communicate with a child for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification, which was intended to encourage the said child to make a sexual communication.

Offending is alleged to have occurred on November 9, last year.

A police officer aware of the facts of the case told Newry Magistrates’ Court the charges could be connected.

While the circumstances of the alleged incident were disclosed during the short hearing, the charge it is understood to have come about when police were alerted following a so-called paedophile hunter sting in Kilkeel, which was captured on video.

The communication is alleged to have been with a decoy profile of a 13-year-old girl.

A defence solicitor said he had made it clear during interview the case should be dealt with under the Indictable Case Process (ICP) scheme and fast-tracked to crown court.

He added: “This should go swiftly to the next stage and I ask the court to decide the best way to achieve that rather than bring my client back. The sooner we can get a date the better.

District Judge Peter Magill enquired if there is a young victim to which the defence replied: “There is no injured party.”

A prosecuting lawyer advised the full file is not due from police for some weeks so Judge Magill adjourned the case until May 15 but excused Hanna from attending on that date.

He remanded Hanna on continuing bail and granted Legal Aid.

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