Northern Ireland

Man, 31, pleads guilty to sex with Belfast teenager

Laganside Courts Complex
Image caption The case was heard at Belfast Crown Court

A man from England has been ordered to sign the sex offenders register after he pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl in Belfast.

Gareth Freeman, 31, from Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to meeting a child after sexual grooming, six counts of sexual activity with a child, a further six counts of possessing indecent images of a child and two of taking an indecent image of a child.

The court heard he travelled to Belfast and had sex with the girl in the Park Avenue Hotel in east Belfast in 2009.

The charges, which were dated between 30 October and November 1 last year, arose after Freeman, from Regent Street in Mirfield, began chatting to the girl on a mobile phone network.

During a previous bail application, the court heard that Freeman recorded himself abusing the schoolgirl and that within days of beginning to chat with her, he had talked her into sending him explicit pictures.

A Crown lawyer had told the court that in October alone, phone records showed he sent her 3,793 text messages and 76 media messages with Freeman being described as "very much a predatory male offender, this is not an opportunist".

Following the guilty pleas on Friday, The Recorder of Belfast, Judge Tom Burgess, ordered Freeman to sign the sex offenders register, telling him the length of time he would remain on it would depend on the final sentence passed.

He adjourned passing sentence until pre-sentence probation reports and victim impact reports have been compiled, remanding Freeman back into custody.