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Tyrone bus stop arrest drama: Vigilante parents help track down paedophile suspect in Northern Ireland

By Patricia Devlin

Published 29/11/2016

This is the dramatic moment PSNI officers arrested a suspected paedophile over allegations he arranged to meet a schoolgirl at a Co Tyrone bus stop.

The 45-year-old man is now at the centre of a criminal investigation over claims he groomed the 15-year-old for weeks online before arranging to meet her.

Police apprehending the suspect
Police apprehending the suspect
Being led away by an officer

But the underage meeting was actually organised by a vigilante parents group which had travelled to Northern Ireland to confront him and another suspected sexual predator.

England-based Internet Interceptors published the footage, along with text message 'logs' and pictures, on its website after handing over a dossier of evidence to police.

That included footage of the group confronting the middle-aged man at a bus stop in Cookstown last month.

The 25 minute clip shows the anonymous vigilantes telling the man the teenager he was talking to was a fake, before reading out transcripts of alleged online conversations between the two.

They included a sexually explicit text message and pictures of the suspect, who is understood to be originally from the Co Antrim area.

The man initially denied he was there to meet the schoolgirl.

However he then admitted to arranging the meeting, but claimed he believed she was 19.

A female member of the group is then heard saying he was continuously made aware of her age through multiple text exchanges.

Twenty minutes in to the footage a detective and two PSNI officers arrive at the scene and arrest the male on suspicion of online grooming offences.

In separate footage taken on the same day, the group also confronted another man from the Dungannon area of Co Tyrone in a separate decoy.

The suspect, who is married and in his 40s, is accused of travelling to meet the fake 15-year-old girl at Newtownabbey's Abbey Centre shopping complex after spending weeks talking to her online.

He is filmed leaving the busy centre after a woman from the group reads out a transcript of alleged text exchanges between him and the fake 15-year-old.

The group later tracked the man down to his sprawling country home in Co Tyrone, where his wife and young children also live.

The man in question, who is believed to work in the construction sector, also denied knowing the girl he was speaking to was underage.

Last night, the PSNI confirmed that it had launched an investigation into the allegations surrounding both men.

A spokesperson told the Belfast Telegraph: "On October 27, 2016, in the Cookstown area, police arrested a 47-year-old male and a 45-year-old male on suspicion of attempting to commit online grooming offences.

"Both males were released on police bail pending further enquiries. This investigation is ongoing."

Internet Interceptors claims it is a dedicated team of parents hunting paedophiles and sexual predators across the UK keeping communities safe.

A spokesperson said it would continue to mount investigations in Northern Ireland to keep communities "safe".

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, organiser 'Julie' - not her real name - said: "We conduct our online operations much as the police would do, but without the red tape and thousands in costs to bring one paedophile to the courts and get a conviction.

"We have all the evidence ready and waiting to hand to police, like we did here.

"Our investigations have already brought multiple sex offenders to court and convicted for their disgusting crimes."

Julie added: "We will not stop bringing these people to the attention of the mums and dads and family members who make up our communities.

"Expect us back in Ireland very soon."

Belfast Telegraph

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