Saturday 23 March 2019

Gardai issue warning over paedophile hunting groups as video emerges of man being confronted on street

Stock picture
Stock picture
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

GARDAI have issued a warning about the activities of online paedophile hunting groups after a video was posted online of a man who appears to suffer an assault after being confronted on the street.

The incident happened in Ballyfermot, Dublin today at around 4.30pm, when a predator-hunting group recorded its confrontation of an individual, who they accused of sending sexually explicit images to a 14-year-old girl.

In the clip, which was broadcast live on Facebook, the man appears to be set upon by a mob that gathered as the paedophile hunters questioned him.

The attackers do not appear to be connected to the predator hunting group.

A garda spokesman said they don’t comment on the specific activates of such groups or videos and material published online by third parties.

However he raised concerns about the activities of such groups, which he said were a concern for An Garda Siochana and other police services.

“The activity engaged in and the manner of confrontation between such groups and their targets has the potential for violence and could result in harm to persons present,” he said.

“There are also concerns over the legality of the actions of such groups operating in Ireland.

“The manner in which such groups operate and how they interact with their chosen targets prior to and during the arranged meeting has the potential to affect future criminal proceedings.”

He said it is the role of gardai to investigate crime and enforce legislation and urged anyone with information relating to the potential sexual exploitation of children to report it immediately to An Garda Síochána where it will be investigated by professional investigators.

“Our priority at all times is the safety of children, and to use all lawful means to fully investigate and prosecute crimes which jeopardise the safety of a child.”

Ballyfermot councillor, Hazel De Nortuin, said she passed the incident but wasn’t aware at the time what was happening.

“I only became aware afterwards.

“There was a large crowd gathered. I would say up to 20 people in a garage on the opposite side of the road.

 “As I understand it residents became aware of what happened and they started coming out. It mobilised the crowd very quickly,” she said.

“I just saw the footage. It’s a difficult situation. It kind of got out of hand,” she said.

Ms De Nortuin said she didn’t condone the violence and questioned whether such groups have the proper training or resources to carry out such sting operations.

The Garda Press Office did not respond when asked if anyone had been arrested arising from the incident or if it had information on the condition of the man.

However Ms De Nortuin said she had heard locally that he was “in a very bad way”.

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