Alleged 'paedophile hunter' avoids jail over bail breach
An alleged 'paedophile hunter' has admitted breaching his bail conditions which banned him from being on social media.
Father-of-three David Foster (28), with an address at Orkney Drive in Ballymena, is alleged to have committed the breach by being on Snapchat in the early hours of Sunday.
The defendant was originally granted bail after he appeared in court earlier this year charged with 10 offences including false imprisonment of three males; intimidation and attempted intimidation of individuals from their homes and employment and criminal damage to a man's jacket.
The charges relate to dates in the first three months of this year and the charge sheets show there was an attempt to intimidate a man from his home in Newcastle, Co Down.
In April this year, the defendant had been released on bail with conditions including having no access to a mobile device with a capability beyond voice calls and simple text messaging.
He was also not to travel in a private vehicle with a device exceeding that with a capability beyond voice calls and simple text messaging and he was banned from accessing social media, dating sites and public records like electoral rolls.
He was also not to 'advise or consult with any person in relation to activity related to the identification of persons involved in online sexual grooming' and was 'not to attend any meeting showing support for or discussing activity related to the identification of persons involved in online sexual grooming'.
Foster appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday where a police officer said the defendant was found in a vehicle at 3am on Sunday at Orkney Drive and he had been on Snapchat on a mobile phone.
The officer said the original charges related to the "actions of a self-styled paedophile hunting group".
She said there were five alleged incidents earlier this year involving the defendant and others.
The officer said the breach of bail happened when the defendant was in a car with a female and there were three mobile phones.
When cautioned for breaching the bail the defendant replied: "I am sorry."
Defence solicitor Garrett Greene said that the defendant accepted he had breached the bail.
The lawyer said his client indicated he had been in contact with a neighbour and there was no suggestion of any further alleged offending.
Mr Greene also said there had been a serious incident recently and the defendant had a phone to allow him to have contact with family members.
District Judge Paul Copeland said the defendant was on bail for "serious matters".
He told Foster his conduct at the weekend was "at the least suspicious and at the worst highly concerning".
The judge said the court had set out very strict terms of bail but Foster had been detected in "highly questionable" circumstances.
He said the defendant had come within a hair's breadth of being remanded in custody and said that would happen if there were any further violations of bail.
The judge ordered Foster to pay £500 recognizance and that he would be released from custody once that was paid.
The case was adjourned to June 28.