A HOMELESS man charged with the rape of two children has been placed under protection in prison.
The 30-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, will remain under protection until he appears before the courts again on Friday.
He appeared before Longford District Court yesterday, where he was charged with four counts of rape against a nine-year-old girl and a six-year-old girl – having allegedly committed two offences against each of the children.
Judge Seamus Hughes called for "all necessary protections" for the defendant while in custody, adding "I know it's an unusual thing to state but we're all living in the real world".
The judge also acceded to a request from the defence that the accused be kept on suicide watch. He also stated that the defendant should receive any appropriate medical attention, referencing "some marks" on his face.
The accused man, who is originally from Ballinasloe, was brought in to the courthouse just before 9am yesterday in a white van flanked by the garda armed support unit. He was escorted into the courtroom at 10.36am where he appeared before Judge Hughes.
Dressed in blue jeans, white runners and a black jacket, the defendant, who had a scrape on the left side of his face, stood quietly in the body of the courtroom where he did not speak.
During the 10-minute hearing, Inspector Yvette McCormack gave evidence of arresting the defendant at 6.54pm on Monday in Athlone garda station and charging him at 7.45pm. The court heard that when each of the four charges were put to him he made no reply.
Gardai requested that the accused be held in custody to which defence solicitor, Gearoid Geraghty, replied that no application for bail was being contemplated.
The accused, of no fixed abode, was remanded in custody to appear before Harristown District Court on Friday, October 4.
Judge Hughes granted legal aid for the accused who is unemployed. He also requested a psychiatric evaluation be carried out following a request by Mr Geraghty.
"I have concerns with regards to my client's ability to enter a plea," he told the court.
During the hearing, Superintendent Noreen McBrien raised the issue of pre-trial publicity of the case.
"It has come to my attention that there has been some comment in the media that could be unhelpful to the future progression of the trial," she said, requesting that the judge make an order that people be more mindful of that.
Mr Geraghty said he had brought his concerns about the issue to gardai.
"I am conscious not to say anything that will inflame an already fraught situation," he said before adding: "I'm worried about the integrity of the process, nothing else."
Judge Hughes reminded the media of their duty in the case in preserving the anonymity of both the defendant and the alleged victims, citing Section 2, 7 and 8 of the Sexual Offences Act.
"I well understand the heightened emotions of the case as have been publicised in the various media in the last 24 hours but I have every confidence that the public will continue to assist gardai in their work and allow the legal process to take its course," he added.
Up to 30 gardai were present at the courthouse including members of the armed response unit. A group of up to 50 people also gathered outside the court and shouted abuse at the defendant as he was led away.
The alleged rape of a six and nine-year-old girl occurred on Saturday. They had been attending a birthday party at a housing estate in Athlone town when they went missing.