Belfast Telegraph

Facebook 'vigilante' put paedophiles' addresses on internet, court hears

By Alan Erwin

A man who denies running a Facebook witch-hunt against paedophiles is to be asked to reveal whether he posted a rapist's address, the High Court has heard.

A lawyer for defendant Joe McCloskey confirmed he had asked his client to provide an unedited version of a post that appeared to detail where an offender lived.

A judge also heard claims that the campaigner was hiding material that could aid the lawsuit brought against him by a convicted child molester.

Mr McCloskey and Facebook are being jointly sued for damages by the sex offender.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is claiming misuse of private information, harassment and breaches of the Data Protection Act.

The sex criminal launched proceedings after his photograph and details appeared last year on 'Keeping our kids safe from predators II', a Facebook page run by Mr McCloskey.

The plaintiff alleges that on top of abusive comments on the page, some people called for violence against him and were trying to find out where he lived.

One user allegedly called for him to be hanged and others are said to have endorsed shooting.

The paedophile further claimed he was threatened with being thrown off a pier during a fishing trip, that he was hounded out of a cinema and that he had to use a supermarket trolley to fight off a would-be attacker.

Mr McCloskey told the court he had "named and shamed" 400 sex offenders through the page on the social media website.

While he also claimed he had helped secure seven convictions, he denied being responsible for a witch-hunt or hate campaign and stressed that he included a disclaimer on the page opposing any violence or intimidation.

In evidence, he said that he would remove any exact addresses for offenders if they were to appear on the page.

However, lawyers for the plaintiff have now challenged his assertion based on material discovered during a Google search.

The court heard postings attributed to Mr McCloskey were referred to on a website for sex offenders.

In one comment, he appears to refer to a rapist "living in flats near...". Other parts of the posting have been blanked out.

As legal submissions got under way in the case, Mr Justice Stephens said that the potential inference to be drawn was that the defendant does provide addresses of sex offenders.

He told Barry McKenna, appearing for Mr McCloskey: "Your client can find out what the un-redacted posting is."

The barrister confirmed he had asked his client to do that.

Peter Girvan, for the plaintiff, also pointed to other references to hammers despite Mr McCloskey insisting that he had never incited violence.

"It seems he was deliberately hiding materials from the plaintiff that assisted in his case," Mr Girvan added.

The hearing continues.

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