Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland 'paedophile hunter' facing criminal charges over sting operation

A member of a so-called "paedophile-hunter group" is facing criminal charges over one of their sting operations.

The BBC reports the man is facing charges of assault, disorderly behaviour and false imprisonment.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said the charges related to the conduct of an individual during one of their confrontations.

And more individuals could face charges over their conduct on the sting operations which are broadcast live on social media, prosecutors have said.

The PPS is reviewing 110 cases brought to it by the police. Marianne  O'Kane of the PPS said irrespective of who it was - either the subject of the sting or those carrying it out - they would take prosecutions if there was enough evidence.

It's thought there are around 13 pages of Northern Ireland groups on social media and up to 10 of those actively involved in confronting people. Some of those involved in the groups already themselves have criminal convictions, police said.

In recent confrontations, there have been cases of mistaken identity, one man took his own life and in other cases paramilitaries carried out attacks on those accused.

Fifteen of the 110 cases up for review have resulted in the PPS deciding there is insufficient evidence to mount any prosecution against those accused of being paedophiles.

Ms O'Kane said there were question marks over the quality and credibility of the evidence gathered by the groups. She also said there were concerns over how the "covert undercover" operations were run by the groups.

"Overall we are not assured to the required level that we can proceed with a fair trial and that is our overriding duty as prosecutors in every case," the senior prosecutor said.

"If the community is wishing to secure positive criminal justice outcomes, the only way to do that effectively is to bring any suspected offending to the attention of police, to allow them to conduct professional investigations and to allow us then to analyse that evidence, and where the test for prosecution is met to prosecute those cases at court."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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