Belfast Telegraph

Paedophile hunter George Keenan remanded in custody after flouting social media ban

By Alan Erwin

An alleged paedophile hunter has been remanded back into custody after flouting a ban on accessing social media platforms.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard George Keenan breached bail conditions within 24 hours of being released on charges of targeting suspected sex offenders.

The 34-year-old used WhatsApp messenger - despite being restricted to a mobile phone capable of just voice calls and simple text messages.

A defence lawyer said it had been a "silly and stupid mistake" for which Keenan apologised.

"He's a man of low intelligence," the lawyer added.

Opposing renewed bail, police claimed Keenan has ignored previous undertakings to stop hunting suspected paedophiles.

Referring to the defendant's alleged activities, Sergeant Adrian Moutray told the court: "He identifies individuals he disagrees with on the internet, communicates with them and brings them to a location of his choice with other like-minded people and uses the internet to humiliate them live online."

District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told the defendant has publicly stated his intention is to "destroy these individuals lives".

Keenan, of Glenwood Court in the Dunmurry area of Belfast, is among three alleged paedophile hunters facing a raft of assault, false imprisonment and attempted intimidation charges.

He is also accused of trying to menace an investigative reporter during a confrontation in the south of the city on February 6.

BBC reporter Kevin Magee was allegedly confronted by a number of people at a coffee shop on Botanic Avenue while making a news report on the activities of groups operating in Northern Ireland.

Charges of disorderly behaviour, attempting my force, threat or menace to cause Mr Magee from refraining to broadcast a television interview, and obstruction have been brought over that incident.

On Tuesday Keenan was granted bail on condition that he abide by a series of conditions aimed at stopping any futher paedophile hunting activities.

Those restrictions included a prohibition on using social media platforms and only access to basic mobile phone functions.

He was arrested again on Wednesday after the breach was detected.

The defence lawyer argued that his client borrowed the device, switched off mobile data and then used WhatsApp to send details of the new number.

But Sergeant Moutray insisted: "I do not believe any undertakings Mr Keenan gives."

Judge Bagnall also expressed concerns at the breach occurring just after bail was granted.

"He voluntarily entered into an agreement with the court, but straight away breaks that," she said.

Despite being told Keenan has now "seen the error of his ways", she ordered that he must be remanded in custody.

The defendant is now due back in court by video-link on March 22.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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