Co Down man faces charges for allegedly sexually grooming child

Kenneth Menagh thought he was asking 14-year-old girl to undress

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 today.

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

Mr 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 complete prohibition on accessing any social media or dating sites. Mr 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 with a child. She claimed he breached the terms of the Order on April 10 this year through chats on an online platform.

“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 immediately began a sexual conversation and indicated a strong intent to meet.

“He asked if she was a virgin before introducing himself as Kenny,” she said. 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 how she undressed. Mr Menagh allegedly asked her to pull her bra straps down, before then enquiring how it made her feel.

Opposing bail, Ms McKay contended that the potential risk he poses cannot be properly managed. Defence counsel described Mr Menagh as suffering from deteriorating mental health and alcohol abuse since his marriage broke up. He is also registered disabled, taking a cocktail of medication for diabetes and heart problems, the court heard.

Despite expressing concerns over the alleged offences, Lord Justice Treacy granted bail based on the time Mr Menagh has now spent behind bars. Imposing an alcohol ban and prohibition on internet access, the judge warned Mr Menagh any further breaches will result in an immediate return to custody.