When District Judge Rosie Watters said she was concerned about the risks of witness interference so was remanding Daniel Edwards into custody, the 20-year-old university student threw his head into his hands and wept, his shoulders shaking with emotion.
Appearing at Lisburn Magistrates Court by video link from police custody Edwards, from Park Street in Lurgan, confirmed that he understood the five charges against him alleging that on various dates between 2016 and August this year, he raped a male child under 13, engaged in sexual activity and sexual assault of a child and incited the alleged victim to engage in sexual activity.
Det. Const. Nicholl said she believed she could connect Edwards to each of the offences which, according to the police case, were committed over a five year time span when the alleged victim was between seven and 13-years-old.
Although the specifics of the allegations were not opened, she claimed the last incident was committed last month and that Edwards was arrested on Saturday in Portrush just a few minutes before cops were made aware of the allegations.
DC Nicholl said that two minutes before the complainant’s mother contacted police, members of the public had dialled 999 as there was a male, who turned out to be the defendant, “running around Portrush with a knife, saying he wanted to kill himself.”
Arrested and interviewed over the sex allegations, Edwards “vehemently denied” the offences.
Under cross examination from defence counsel Ciaran Rodney, the detective conceded that “due to a lack of resources over the weekend,” the child complainant has not yet been formally interviewed about his allegations.
She also conceded that the teenager himself is also being investigated for alleged sex offences but DC Nicholl added that according to the complainant, Edwards “encouraged him to involve those children in the sexual abuse.”
Describing those claims as “evidently self serving,” Mr Roddy submitted that given his clear record, Edwards could be freed on bail albeit with a package of bail conditions to address police concerns.
District Judge Rosie Watters suggested that as the police plan to interview the complainant in the coming days, “my view is that either I adjourn it to the end of the week when the interview has taken place or I can refuse and you can go to the High Court.”
Mr Roddy suggested the judge should “make a determination today” and it was as she refused bail that Edwards began to weep.
He was remanded into custody and the case adjourned to 24 October.