Social media ban part of bail conditions for rape accused

Judge's court wig and hammer or gavel
Judge's court wig and hammer or gavel

Family and friends of a rape accused have been ordered not to discuss the case on social media as part of the defendant’s bail conditions.

Colin Barry McGeown (26) was given strict bail conditions after appearing at Craigavon Magistrates Court on Monday on charges linked with an incident in a house in the Garvaghy Park area of Portadown on Friday night/Saturday morning.

McGeown from Charlestown Road Derrytrasna has been accused of two counts of rape, as well as false imprisonment of the complainant.

He is also accused of administering a substance (white powder) knowing that she did not consent and with the intention of stupifying or overpowering her so as to enable a person to engage in sexual activity with her.

A police officer said community tensions were severely raised and it was for the defendant’s own safety that police opposed bail. He explained that the matter had received considerable social media attention and there were fears for his safety.

McGeown’s solicitor Chris McCann said his client had contended the sexual activity was consensual and claimed the complainant had been sitting on the defendant’s knee for an hour after the alleged incident in front of a number of people.

The officer agreed that two witnesses had come forward on Sunday to give statements but these had not been taken by police.

The solicitor asked if an alleged assault had later been carried out at the property and if the complainant’s relatives had been arrested to which the officer agreed.

Mr McCann said his client did not know why these allegations had been made by the complainant and she did not leave the house in a distressed manner.

When asked for a bail address, which was eight miles from the incident, Judge Bernie Kelly said given people are very colloquial it would not take long to find out where it is. “It would need to be a considerable distance away where people did not know him,” she said.

She set strict bail conditions. McGeown is to be released on £500 bail with a surety of £1,000 to stay at an address approved by the court and with a curfew of between 8pm and 6am.

He is banned from entering Co Armagh even for a court appearance and is not to be in licenced premises or take alcohol or drugs unless those prescribed by a doctor. There will be no first breach and any breach will result in the defendant returning to jail. Judge Kelly said any contact on his behalf however well-meaning by his friends or relatives or the discussion of this case on social media will be a breach as will any attempt to contact the complainant. The case will be dealt with in future in Dungannon court unless the matter goes to indictment.