Man found guilty of abducting 14-year-old girl found in his attic
An Irish man has been convicted of twice abducting a schoolgirl who was found hiding in his attic.
19-year-old Dale Walsh was warned he could be jailed for having held the 14-year-old against her father's wishes on consecutive nights, before being released on bail to return for sentencing next month.
The girl’s father said he believed that his daughter and 10-year-old son had been at a sleepover at a friend house.
He said he spoke to a man on the phone, believing it was the friend's father, before allowing them to go.
His daughter then went missing for the first time on December 31 last year.
The father recalled going out searching for her, with his young son directing him to the address they had previously stayed at.
Walsh answered when the concerned father called to his door, but denied that the girl was inside, vowing he would help to search for her.
A PSNI officer later arrived to Dale’s Mulderg Drive home in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim.
The officer said he had gone to Walsh's flat and found a bedroom door locked.
At first the defendant claimed it was used by his brother, but eventually agreed to let police force it open.
The officer said he found the girl inside, dressed in her underwear.
He also confirmed the door had been locked from the inside.
Police were alerted again on January 1 when the girl went missing for a second time, this time with her dog.
Another constable told the court he went back to Walsh's apartment and found the animal there.
According to that officer the accused repeatedly denied the girl was there.
But he said he used a set up ladders to get up into the attic and located the child hiding between rafters.
Defence barrister Richard McConkey claimed there was no evidence his client held the girl against her will on either occasion.
He accepted the case appeared "extremely unsavoury", but contended that the child locked herself in the bedroom and hid out herself in the roof space.
During the hearing District Judge George Conner noted the girl did not see herself as a victim.
But convicting Walsh today, Mr Conner said: "I'm satisfied that both offences are made out.
"The child was being held against the will of a parent."
Adjourning for sentencing, the judge told Walsh: "Whilst you are quite right to anticipate this could well be dealt with by way of custody, I would like to know more about the general background."