A man accused of raping and indecently assaulting two young boys appeared in court today.
John Joseph Merritt is alleged to have sexually abused the children in the Belle Vale area of Liverpool in the 1970s. He denies the charges.
Merritt, with receding grey hair, glasses and a single gold earring, also sported a green coat with a fur hood, and a black face mask.
According to the charges, Merritt raped the older of the two boys on no less than 10 occasions, in the mid to late 1970s.
Merritt is accused of indecently assaulting the same boy at least that number of times, by thrusting himself between his legs.
He is said to have indecently assaulted him on no less than 10 occasions by kissing and penetrating his mouth with his tongue.
Merritt is alleged to have committed gross indecency with the boy at least that many times, by getting the child to masturbate him.
He faces two further charges of rape against the younger of the two boys, which relate to two separate alleged incidents.
The court heard Merritt was a teenage boy at the time of the alleged offences.
Merritt spoke only to confirm his personal details and to plead not guilty to all six of the alleged sexual offences.
After hearing from Stephen McNally, prosecuting, Judge Louise Brandon said his trial would be estimated to last five days.
The judge fixed the trial for March 22 next year.
Louise McCloskey, defending, confirmed her client was on conditional bail, with a condition not to contact the two complainants.
Judge Brandon extended his bail on the same terms and said he would next be expected to attend a pre-trial hearing in October.
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