UDA attacks men named as paedophiles by Facebook vigilante group
Two alleged paedophiles who were "outed" by an online vigilante group have been attacked by paramilitaries, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
The men, who were named on a Facebook page, both live in the greater Belfast area.
They were targeted by the UDA after they were identified on social media.
The online vigilante group claimed that the first man "arranged for a 15-year-old to travel from the city to Greenisland to perform sexual acts as well as sex".
It's understood the man was targeted by loyalist terrorists at his home on Monday night.
The Facebook group said that the second man, believed to be 51, "groomed who he believed to be a 14-year-old online, sent a picture of himself wearing nothing but a Santa hat on his p**** and arranged to pick the child up and bring to his house for 'kissing and cuddling'".
It is understood that he was targeted by the UDA on Saturday night.
In a video showing members of the vigilante group confronting the man, he admits to sending the picture of himself naked to what he thought was a 14-year-old boy.
However, he says there was "no way" that he would have gone through with the meeting, and claims it is the first time he has taken part in such activity.
When asked why he had done so, he responded: "I don't know. I had a few drinks."
The PSNI said: "Police arrested a 50-year-old man in the Greenisland area on Tuesday October 31, 2017, on suspicion of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming and attempted sexual communication with a child. The man was released on police bail pending further enquiries.
"Police arrested a 51-year-old man in the Newtownabbey area on Friday January 5, 2018, on suspicion of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.
"The man was released on police bail pending further enquiries."
Detective Chief Inspector David McBurney of the PSNI's Public Protection Branch said that the police had seen a "rise in incidents involving a number of paedophile hunter groups operating within in Northern Ireland" over recent months.
He added: "We are also aware of a number of incidents following these hunter group 'stings'.
"It is the role of the PSNI to deal with those allegedly involved in this type of crime and the subsequent investigations.
"We are the professionals with the expert knowledge and experience to carry out rigorous investigations to the required evidential standard.
"We are the legitimate police service and we are accountable.
"Those involved in this type of vigilante behaviour aren't in a position to ensure safeguarding issues are addressed and their actions could have a detrimental impact on the criminal justice process.
"The PSNI are committed to tackling this issue and work closely with our partner agencies when carrying out investigations to assess the risk a potential offender may pose and to safeguard any children at potential risk."
Mr McBurney said if online groups wanted to help safeguard children "they need to bring any information they have about the identity of any person engaged in sexual offences against children to the PSNI immediately".
"These groups should not make arrangements to meet these individuals and should not share that information online," he added.
"We need them to come to us with their information, so that we can convert it into evidence and ensure a thorough investigation is carried out, including gathering the best possible evidence to enable effective investigations that produce a charge and successful prosecution."