Man (62) charged with sexually assaulting teen

A sixty-two years old man has admitted carrying out a number of sex acts on a drunken fifteen years old girl whom he met in the Bay Road Park in Derry on Sunday night.

James Gallagher, from St. Columb’s Wells, appeared in court yesterday charged with sexually assaulting the teenager .

Defence solicitor John Fahy told District Judge Barney McElholm that, during two interviews after his arrest, his client admitted sexual activity with the girl.

“This is not a man who denies what happened. While the age difference between the defendant and the girl is abhorrent, my client says she consented to what took place”, he said.

Opposing bail, a detective constable said the defendant was alleged to have pushed the drunken teenage girl to the ground after she’d asked him to look for her mobile phone. During his interviews, the defendant said he thought the girl was aged between seventeen and twenty and that she consented to the sex acts.

“He said the girl had been drinking with friends in the park and was then afraid to go home because her parents would have been angry with her”, the police officer said.

The police witness said he was afraid of public order offences being committed against the defendant if he was released on bail. He said the defendant also had a conviction for indecent assault in 1982.

“He says he takes a five mile walk three days a week from his home to the Bay Road Park where young people congregate and drink. I would be afraid that he would go back there to identify vulnerable victims”, he said.

Describing the case as highly emotive, the District Judge refused bail and remanded the defendant in custody for three weeks.