A County Armagh woman has gone on trial accused of “sexting” a schoolgirl after the teenager’s mobile phone was seized in school.
Opening the prosecution case against Amanda McClean, who turns 50 today (Tuesday), Crown counsel Geraldine McCullough told the jury that in deciding the guilt or innocence of the defendant, they would have to set aside any feelings of sympathy or prejudice, but that in any event, “we say the evidence is overwhelming and should convince you, so that you are sure, that this defendant is guilty”.
McClean, also known as Brown, from Sleepy Valley in Richhill, faces a total of six offences committed between October 3 and 11, 2018, including four counts of sexual communication with a child and single charges of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and meeting a child following sexual grooming.
As the case opened on Monday, the jury heard McClean met the 14-year-old schoolgirl through a relative a few months before the alleged offences came to light in October 2018.
Teachers at the teenager’s school seized her mobile phone and, when her mother checked through it, court was told she saw “numerous examples of sexualised conversation going to and from the girl’s phone”.
“The person sending the messages indicates that a relationship would be inappropriate but then ends the text saying ‘I love you’,” said Ms McCullough, who quoted from another message: “I can’t wait to get at you properly. It’s going to be mind-blowing. I’m horny as f***.”
She told the jury that in a series of messages, “it’s indicative of an understanding between the parties that they were engaging in a sex act at the same time while texting each other”.
“There are messages which are a graphic example of sexting and refers to kissing, licking and organs,” said Ms McCullough, who explained to the jury that to convict on the inciting charge, the teenager did not have to be taking part, but rather “it’s enough if the defendant tried to encourage the child”.
Arrested and interviewed, McClean denied the messages had come from her but the jury heard it would be the Crown case that the phone number which sent the messages, despite it being registered to a Joe Bloggs, was registered to the defendant’s address and was also linked to her IP address.
“If you are satisfied that Amanda McClean had that phone and are sure that she sent those messages to the teenager, then you should convict,” declared Ms McCullough.
The trial, set to last until the end of the week, continues.