An Inishowen man, charged with rape and sexual assault, has been denied access to his passport to travel for a family wedding later this year.
The man appeared before Buncrana District Court to apply to the court for the return of his passport, which he earlier surrendered due to strict bail conditions imposed.
The man, who cannot be named due to a publication order imposed by the court, is charged with raping and sexually assaulting a woman at an address in Inishowen on a date in February 2017.
He appeared before Buncrana District Court and applied to have his passport returned to him to allow to attend two weddings in Poland in the summer.
His solicitor Frank Dorrian said he understands that the charges against his client are ‘very serious and significant’ and he knows the stakes in the case are very high in terms of the bail conditions.
But he said the man has lived in Inishowen for the past 13 years and has strong ties to the community.
He said he appeared before court on every occasion and fully co-operated with the Gardaí and would like to be able to travel to Poland on two separate occasions during the summer.
Mr. Dorrian said he knows when the charges are so serious the risk of evasion are higher, but he hoped his client’s co-operation and engagement with the court process might counter that risk a little.
However Garda Inspector Seamus McGonigle said this was a different level.
“These are serious offences,” he told the court.
“And this application is a different level there is just too much risk. I accept there might a be family occasion but with respect that doesn’t matter – he is a flight risk.”
Mr. Dorrian said he knows that they are on a ‘thin wedge’ but added that the man, despite not being married or having any children, had family connections in Inishowen.
However, Judge Paul Kelly said it was ‘somewhat a stretch’ to give the man his passport back and refused the application.
Meanwhile Insp. McGonigle said he was applying to the court for some extra time for preparing the Book of Evidence in the case.
He said Gardaí needed an extra month to prepare the Book. Judge Kelly agreed and adjourned the case until June 13.