POLICE have interviewed a Coleraine man who was allegedly snared by a so-called paedophile-hunting group in England, about a similar matter involving a Dublin-based group, a court has heard.
Harold Burke (59), of Quilly Road, was interviewed about the new claims, under caution, in recent days, Coleraine Magistrates Court was told on Monday. A prosecution lawyer said the investigating police officer anticipates having a full file ready in early January.
Defence solicitor Ciaran Shiels said his client has now been spoken to by police, under caution in jail, where he is on remand. Mr Shiels said police said they are intending to put “that material on the same file”.
Mr Shiels said a bail application for Burke will be made at Coleraine Court on Thursday December 20. Burke is charged with two counts of attempted sexual communication with a child and two of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
He is also accused of possessing 370 rounds of .22 ammunition in suspicious circumstances.
During a previous failed bail hearing a PSNI officer objected to bail and said that in July this year police were contacted by a group called Decoy Central, which he said was a “so-called paedophile hunting group” based in England.
The officer said the group alleged they had been in contact with Burke who had online conversations with their members who were pretending to be 13-year-old girls. The officer said the alleged conversations involving Burke were of a “very extreme sexual nature”.
The policeman said officers arrested Burke and items seized included computers. He said Burke made a ‘no comment’ interview and showed “no sign of remorse” for his alleged actions and was subsequently charged and remanded in custody.
Meanwhile, in August, the High Court in Belfast was told Burke allegedly exchanged more than 100 messages and offered to meet one of the “decoys”. When police arrested the accused and carried out searches at his home ammunition was discovered in a utility room safe, the court was told.
At Coleraine Court recently a police officer said “more evidence” had come to light from a group similar to ‘Decoy Central’, this time based in Dublin. He said information was received from the group on the back of publicity in the case.
The policeman told the recent court that being remanded in custody, where he has been since August, was also “very important” for the defendant’s own safety as he is “very well-known” in Coleraine and Limavady.