Man who outed paedophiles on Facebook page agrees to stop harassing child abuser
A man who ran a Facebook page that named paedophiles has avoided a conviction for harassing a child abuser after agreeing to accept a restraining order.
Prosecutors withdrew the charge facing Joe George McCloskey (38) after he agreed to the terms of an extensive order preventing him from making contact with the offender or posting about him on social media.
McCloskey, of Anderson Crescent in Limavady, Co Londonderry, ran the Facebook page with the intent of naming and shaming paedophiles.
He appeared in Limavady Magistrates Court, where he was set to contest the single count of harassment relating to one of the hundreds of men he referenced on the site.
Negotiations between the prosecution and defence before the hearing resolved the matter.
When the case was called, a prosecutor told District Judge Liam McNally: "We are prepared to withdraw the charge on the proviso that the defence and Mr McCloskey consent to a fairly lengthy restraining order preventing any contact between defendant and complainant."
Judge McNally, who emphasised that a reporting restriction prevented the naming of the complainant, stressed to McCloskey the importance of adhering to the three-year order.
The defendant, who has a lengthy criminal record, replied: "I understand it completely."
McCloskey's defence solicitor said his client had already stopped his Facebook campaign.
"He has desisted from his activities on Facebook," he said.
Earlier this year both McCloskey and Facebook were successfully sued in a landmark civil case at Belfast High Court by a man named on his 'Keeping Our Kids Safe from Predators 2' page.
The sex offender who took the case was awarded £20,000 in damages.
The High Court in Belfast ruled the information that was published by McCloskey online "harmed the public interest, creating a risk of reoffending".
The plaintiff was convicted in 2007 of a number of sex offences.
He was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment and released on licence in 2012.
The judge found that McCloskey was liable to the sex criminal for misuse of private information and for unlawful harassment.
McCloskey has 97 convictions, has served 20 jail sentences on both sides of the border, and has had almost £4,500 in fines imposed on him since his offending began in 1993, a court in July heard.
His convictions include four for indecency and 14 for drug crimes, as well as numerous public order and driving offences.