Man accused of trying to sell girl (11) for sex refused bail

Omagh courthouse Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

Tanya Fowles

A Hungarian man subject to six extradition warrants over alleged criminal activity in his own country has appeared in court after an 11-year-old told police he was trying to sell her for sex.

At Omagh Magistrates’ Court today, it also emerged Zoltan Marko (54), with an address at Glen Road, Drumquin, had been illegally slaughtering pigs on a farm and selling the meat, an offence for which he has been previously convicted.

Marko has been charged with child sexual communication on dates between January and March this year after allegedly encouraging the girl to respond to his advances in a sexual manner for his own gratification.

He is also accused of possessing an offensive weapon, namely a knife, on May 22, as well as having ammunition in suspicious circumstances and without a firearm certificate.

A detective constable told the court all the charges could be connected to the accused.

They explained that Marko is currently subject to extradition bail while legal proceedings are underway in respect of the six Hungarian warrants.

On March 10, a report was made to the PSNI that he was offering the 11-year-old for sex in return for money. Officers also became aware of an alleged inappropriate relationship between him and the child.

When seven co-accused men were made aware of the investigation they fled the country, leaving their employment without notice.

Objecting to bail, the detective said Marko had breached his current bail by not residing at the required address registered with the extradition unit.

He also has convictions in Hungary for armed robbery, assault and weapon possession, but absconded before these could be dealt with.

The detective constable told the court: “Police also believe he is likely to interfere with witnesses.

“He has been in contact with the child since she disclosed her allegations, despite being under safeguarding measures and told he was not permitted any communication with her.”

They added: “There is a risk of reoffending given further alleged offences while awaiting extradition to Hungary.

“He also confirmed to police that he has been slaughtering pigs at a farm and selling the meat against environmental health standards. He has previously been convicted of this and dealt with, but has continued on with this activity.”

A defence solicitor said Marko “vehemently denies” the sexual communication charge, and while it is accepted he has not resided at the required address, he has signed bail with police three times a week.

The correct address was a property he resided in with his previous partner, and when that relationship ended, he moved in with another woman.

District Judge Bernie Kelly said: “It’s not often I get a defendant who has managed to tick every single objection box for bail. [That] has been managed in this instance.

“Six extradition warrants shows a history of failing to attend courts to answer for alleged criminal activity. He has a history of breaching bail and there are allegations of further offences being committed while on bail. He has made contact with the injured party.”

Marko said: “I didn’t do anything like that.”

Judge Kelly responded: “Didn’t breach bail? Of course you did.”

Marko accepted moving from his registered address but insisted he had notified his solicitor and asked them to tell the police.

But Judge Kelly said: “That’s not how it works. On top of all that, he made contact with the child after the investigation had commenced. It will come as no surprise I am refusing this application for bail.”

Marko was remanded into custody to appear again by video-link on June 20.

Today's News in 90 seconds - May 26th