Man accused of inciting a teenage girl to engage in sexual activity

An accusation against a foreign national charged with intentionally inciting a teenage girl to engage in sexual activity has led to “high community tensions” in Ballymena, a court in the town heard on Thursday.

Thursday, 26th August 2021, 4:20 pm

53-year-old Asen Demirev, with an address at Clonavon Terrace, Ballymena, is charged with inciting a child aged 13-16 to engage in sexual activity on August 25 this year whilst not reasonably believing she was 16 or over. The defendant - who had the assistance of an interpreter speaking Bulgarian - appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court via a video link from custody in Antrim.

A police officer said she believed she could connect him to the charge. The officer said was an issue regarding a bail address. She said: “There is a mixed community of foreign nationals and local people”. As a result of the allegation there was “almost public disorder,” the court was told. The PSNI officer said there were “high community tensions at the minute and police have actually got a dedicated crew to the area to try and alleviate any further incidents and they have been in contact with the Inter-Ethnic Forum to try and resolve matters but at this time they would have concerns if the defendant returned to that home address”.

A defence solicitor said it seemed the only objection to bail was the “potential risk to his own safety”. She said police had told her they were either in a position to agree bail outside Ballymena or take a “plea”. The lawyer said had a guilty plea been entered it was “highly unlikely that this matter would be dealt with by way of a custodial sentence”. She said the defendant had an entirely clear record apart from two motoring matters. The lawyer said the defendant had been living in Northern Ireland for almost five years and is in full-time employment. She said it was “not appropriate” for her client to kept in custody “purely due to concerns regarding potential tensions in the community”.

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District Judge Peter Magill said he had read the alleged injured party’s statement “and the allegation is she took what he did as an incitement, that it went no further than that, so in the circumstances I don’t feel I can deny the man bail which is what I would be doing if I asked him to go to a different address”. The judge said he was releasing the defendant on his own bail of £500 with no contact with the alleged injured party or potential witnesses and an alcohol ban. The judge added: “As ever, I’m afraid, the police have to ensure, in accordance with their duty, the law is not broken and that citizens, even those on bail, are protected, like all of us”.

The defence lawyer asked for a reporting restriction regarding the defendant’s address but a press representative objected saying it was “pretty clear his address is already known to those who would have any difficulties”.

The police officer said the address was known to the “local community”.

Judge Magill said the address is already known and it is “pointless to close the stable door after the horse has bolted and is running free” and rejected any reporting restriction.

The case was adjourned to September 23.