A Carnlough man accused of contacting two ten-year-old boys via Instagram and asking them to “carry out sexual acts on themselves” for him to watch, was refused bail at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday.
Michael McCollum (20), of Curragh Hill, is charged with two breaches of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) relating to dates between the end of January and Valentine’s Day this year. Under the terms of the Order he was not allowed to have unsupervised contact with children under 16. McCollum is also accused of using the internet ‘without reasonable excuse’ in breach of the court order. The defendant appeared at court via video link from Hydebank Prison.
The court heard a family member had withdrawn a previous bail address. Objecting to new bail being granted, a police officer told the court that on March 9 this year the PSNI in Ballymena received a report from police in Lancashire that two boys, aged ten, had been contacted via Instagram and “sexually graphic” content was involved.
McCollum was alleged to have performed a sex act upon himself and asked the boys to “carry out sexual acts on themselves” and asked if he could watch. Police traced the internet link to McCollum’s address and a number of devices were seized which had access to the internet.
The police officer told the court that during interview McCollum made “admissions in relation to all offences”. The officer said the offences happened when McCollum was on Probation for previous similar offending and was also on police bail in relation to ongoing enquiries over other alleged offences reported last summer.
A defence lawyer said McCollum has Asberger’s and custody was unsuitable for him and efforts were being made to get a bail address at a hostel. He said McCollum’s designated risk manager in relation to the SOPO had allowed his client to have access to a phone in relation to studies.
Refusing bail, District Judge Nigel Broderick said he was concerned there was a risk of re-offending; the defendant had a relevant record and he had made admissions to breaching a SOPO whilst on bail in connection with other alleged “serious matters”. The case was adjourned to April 11.
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