Belfast Telegraph

Facebook-shamed paedophile 'threatened with being thrown off pier'

The convicted child sex offender's photograph was posted on the social media page 'Keeping our kids safe from predators II'

By Alan Erwin

A convicted child sex abuser was threatened with being thrown off a pier after featuring on a Facebook page set up to monitor paedophiles in Northern Ireland, he told the High Court today.

The man, who cannot be identified, also claimed he was hounded out of a cinema and had to use a supermarket trolley to fight off another tormentor.

He revealed the alleged intimidation as part of his lawsuit against the social media giant and a man said to be involved in running a page on it.

Damages are being sought from Facebook and Joe McCloskey for misuse of private information and freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment.

The sex offender is currently on licence after serving a lengthy jail sentence for indecent assaults on two victims - one a young girl and the other a boy.

But after he was released from prison his photograph and details appeared in April 2013 on the Facebook page 'Keeping our kids safe from predators II'.

Mr Justice Stephens was told that up to 180 comments were then posted in response, most of them heavily abusive.

One user stated: "He needs hung", while others endorsed shooting him or described him as "pure evil", the court heard.

Further postings were made by others after the father of one of his victims used his own Facebook page to publish the area where the man lives.

Those comments included "feed it to the rats" and calling for him to be castrated.

Giving evidence in his action, the man said he was left feeling scared and anxious.

"I was worried for my own safety, but I was more concerned for the safety of my family," he told the court.

Since featuring on the Facebook page his own son no longer stays with him or goes out in public with him.

"He tells me he can't deal with the possibility of people abusing me or threatening me when he's in my company," the man said.

He claimed comments from a local paramilitary commander who beat him up in the past left him particularly fearing a vigilante-style attack.

"I would be more concerned with him knowing his past," he said.

Questioned by his barrister, Peter Girvan, the man recalled four separate incidents he alleged were all directly linked to the exposure on Facebook.

In one a man shouted abuse at him in the street as he was shopping.

He also claimed to have been targeted during a fishing trip with his brother in Co Down.

"We were walking up to the front of the pier and as we approached there was a fella staring at me and he said 'You're that b****** off Facebook'.

"Then he said 'Take yourself off before we throw you in'. I looked at my brother and we just came away."

Confirming he can't swim, he added: "That really, really scared me for my well-being and that of my brother."

Another confrontation occurred as he walked into a cinema auditorium, the court heard.

As he walked in another member of the audience allegedly called him a paedophile and told him to get out or he would be hit.

Detailing a further incident in a Tesco car park, the man continued: "I got my trolley and this fella said 'You're that b****** off Facebook', and he actually came at me.

"I put my trolley between me and him, and sort of knocked him off balance. I was able to get in my car and drive off."

Mr Justice Stephens was told the man has now been placed in the lowest risk category of convicted sex offenders.

At one stage in his evidence Mr Girvan asked if he considered himself a risk to children.

The man replied: "No, I don't."

During the hearing the judge questioned whether publicly describing his offences as being "despicable" could amount to harassment.

Although he accepted his client's crimes were "repugnant", Mr Girvan insisted: "One doesn't take one's moral disgust at a particular act or conviction and then turn it into carte blanche for vigilantism, verbal abuse and physical attack."

The case continues.

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