Paedophile hunters 'overstepped the mark' by falsely imprisoning suspected child sex offenders

From left, Jordan Plain, 25, Christine James-Roberts, 43, Kelly Meadows, 39, Jordan McDonald, 18 and Dean Walls, 51, all members of a paedophile hunting group, arriving at Leeds Crown Court. (SWNS)

A group of so-called paedophile hunters “over-stepped the mark” when they falsely imprisoned and used violence against two men whom they suspected of being child sex offenders, a court heard.

In two separate incidents, the group live-streamed themselves confronting one suspect and later making a citizens' arrest on another.

Members of the group, called Predator Exposure, posed as teenagers purporting to be around 14 years old in online chats with the two men, Leeds Crown Court heard.

The two incidents happened on August 11, 2018 and January 13 2019.

Defendants Phil Hoban, his son Jordan McDonald, Kelly Meadows and Christine James-Roberts confronted the first man at his mother's address in Normanton, West Yorkshire.

The group live-streamed themselves confronting one suspect and later making a citizens' arrest on another on their mobile phones. Here, Kelly Meadows, 39 an alleged member of the group. (SWNS)

The man, who was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and is believed to be on the autistic spectrum, agreed to walk to the back of the house and as he was being led, Mr Hoban said: “We’re Predator Exposure and we’ve just exposed your arse.”

The group then surrounded the man and prevented him from leaving, even refusing to allow him to go inside to get his medication, the jury were told.

Once round the back of the house, a member of the group phoned the police to tell them they had detained a paedophile in his back garden.

Hoban could be heard on live-stream footage referring to printed copies of the chat log and calling the man a “filthy c**t” and telling him that he will be a bit of “fresh meat” when he gets into prison.

The group are accused of false imprisonment and using violence against the alleged paedophiles. Here, Jordan Plain, 25.

Four months later, members of the same group attended the address of a second man, who ran out of the back door of his house after being confronted on his doorstep.

He was chased down the street until he ended up at a nearby corner shop, the Vishnu Convenience Stores in Chapel Allerton near Leeds.

Hoban and McDonald were able to force their way into the shop, and once inside, proceeded to try to physically drag the man outside.

The man held on to a counter before Hoban put his arm around his neck in a headlock and then told him he was under citizens arrest, a court heard.

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Another two co-accused Jordan Plain and Dean Walls then helped to prise the man's hands from the edge of the counter before bundling him out of the shop, a court heard.

Once outside, the man was held by Hoban and prevented from leaving by members of the group who called by police, a jury was told.

Both men were arrested on suspicion of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Leeds, England - January 18, 2018: man walking past the entrance to leeds combined magistrates and crown court building

The court heard the conversations the two men had with the Predator Exposure decoys account amounted to criminal offences but it was decided not to bring charges against them.

During his opening, Prosecutor Tom Storey said the defendants intentionally restrained the freedom of movement of the two men and “went far beyond the bounds” they should have operated in.

He said: “The prosecution say that on two occasions in particular, when they were live-streaming confrontations of the sort I have just described, the members of this group, and those working with them, over-stepped the mark and went far beyond the bounds within which they should have operated.

“In short, the prosecution say that the way in which they behaved on these two occasions involved the commission by them of the criminal offences of false imprisonment and assault.

“The defendants, for their parts, all deny that they have committed any such offences.

“They say that on the two occasions which this case concerns, they were acting as they always do, to carry out what is commonly referred to as a citizen’s arrest, by apprehending suspected child sex offenders and holding them until the police arrived and were formally able to arrest them.

“Essentially, this will be the issue for you to resolve once you have heard the evidence in the case.”

The defendants deny all charges. The trial continues.