Accused of lewd behaviour with a horse

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A 64-year-old man has gone on trial at Derry Crown Court accused of committing an act of a lewd, obscene and disgusting nature with a horse.

Robert McLaughlin, of Sunnyside Drive, Maghera, denies committing an act outraging public decency on May 17, last year.

Opening the trial to a Derry Crown Court jury of seven men and five women, prosecuting counsel Nicola Auret said the alleged incident occurred in a field owned by the local Riding for Disabled Association.

She told the jurors they will hear evidence that a number of horses and ponies were in the field at the time.

It is alleged that a witness to the incident and his 7-year-old daughter were in the area to check on her pony, as it was about to have a foal.

As they passed the Riding for Disabled Association field the man allegedly saw McLaughlin feed a black and white horse before touching it inappropriately.

It is further alleged he touched a brown horse inappropriately.

The jury were told the man will also tell them McLaughlin, someone he had known for most of his life, unzipped his trousers after attempting to corner a brown pony and started to masturbate. It is claimed that the 64-year-old then zipped himself up, went back to the first horse and touched it again.

The jury heard that the alleged incident only stopped when McLaughlin heard a car passing by and he spotted the witness.

The prosecutor revealed the alleged incident was reported to police five days later and when interviewed by officers the defendant denied any allegation of indecent behaviour.

He claimed he would only touch the horses in an innocent way when feeding them.

At hearing.