July 2018

Sex offender ‘tried to meet girl of 14’

A Co Down man banned from contacting children allegedly went online for sexual chats with a police decoy posing as a schoolgirl, the High Court heard yesterday.

Kenneth Menagh, 48, thought he was asking a 14-year-old to undress for him and to become his girlfriend, prosecutors claimed.

Menagh, of Lisburn Street in Ballynahinch, faces charges of breaching a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, attempted sexual communication and attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.

He was granted bail on tight conditions including a prohibition on accessing any social media or dating sites.

Menagh is currently barred from associating with anyone under the age of 16 following a conviction at Croydon Crown Court last year.

Crown lawyer Kate McKay said on that occasion he had travelled to England in a bid to meet a child.

She claimed he breached the terms of the Order on April 10 this year through online chats. “He engaged with what he believed to be a 14-year-old female child who was, in fact, an adult police decoy,” Mrs McKay told the court.

According to the prosecutor Menagh began a sexual conversation. “He asked if she was a virgin before introducing himself as Kenny.”

Lord Justice Treacy heard the defendant told the decoy he wanted to be her first meeting, and for her to become his girlfriend for real.

At one stage he accused her of being a paedophile hunter, but then continued with the exchanges.

It was claimed he requested photographs and expressed a desire to see her undress. Opposing bail, Mrs McKay contended that the potential risk he poses cannot be properly managed. 

Despite expressing concern over the alleged offences, Lord Justice Treacy granted bail based on the time Menagh has spent behind bars.