Wednesday 21 November 2018

'A mob of 30 vigilantes, hurling abuse at me' - Innocent man incorrectly identified as sex offender describes confrontation in Kildare town

Stock picture
Stock picture

Daniel O'Connor

A MAN incorrectly identified as a convicted sex offender on Facebook has spoken about being confronted by a mob of about 30 people who followed him around a town before gardai intervened.

The man, who identified himself as David Murray and said he is a government employee, said a photograph of him was linked to convicted sex offender Anthony Luckwill, who was reportedly spotted in the Kildare area.

Speaking today on KFM’s Kildare Today and RTE Radio One’s Liveline, Mr Murray said he was subsequently confronted by a "vigilante mob" as he attempted to look at an apartment in Monasterevin.

"I was hoping I would find a peaceful place in Monasterevin until around 7.30pm last Friday when I was confronted by a vigilante mob accusing me of being a convicted, notorious paedophile named Anthony Luckwill," he said.

"No evidence was produced. When I requested to be shown the photo they were basing this accusation off, they refused.

"Without the name Anthony Luckwill being used, insinuations, accusations and abuse were hurled at me.

"I was told my image was all over social media and that my photograph was in every Garda station. I was threatened repeatedly and was told to leave the area."

Murray then explained how he walked down to a nearby pub he visited regularly while in Monastervin in an attempt to call Gardaí for assistance.

"I was pursued on the footpath by the people and a couple driving a car, hurling abuse at me and trying to involve other people on the street in the activity against me," he said.

"While I was in the pub, one of the ringleaders of the mob came in and repeatedly took photos of me on his mobile phone."

Two Gardaí arrived at the pub an estimated 40 minutes later where they verified Mr Murray's identity after he presented photo ID.

Gardaí then escorted the innocent man to the car where a mob of approximately 30 people were waiting.

"I can’t commend the two Garda officers enough. They were highly competent, composed and efficient at what they did," Mr Murray said.

"The reports are I was arrested as Anthony Luckwill and taken away by the Gardaí. The actual situation was I needed the Gardaí to protect me from the residents of Monasterevin to ensure my safety after they recklessly endangered it."

Luckwill has a series of convictions for possession of child pornography both here and in Wales.

He sexually assaulted two young boys in 2011 and subsequently received a four-and-a-half-year jail term.

The sex offender, who is in his mid 40s and previously had an address in Navan, Co Meath, was jailed after posing on the internet as a casting agent for TV programmes.

Local media outlet KildareNow had published an article last Friday stating that Luckwill had been spotted in the area and did not issue a retraction until midday Saturday.

They published what they described as "a verified police 'mug shot' photograph of Luckwill" with the article.

However, in the clarification, the outlet said that a reader posted a photograph of another man in the comment section when the article was posted on Facebook. KildareNow has since issued a clarification and apology.

Mr Murray said he is currently consulting a solicitor as he examines his options.

"I didn’t sleep for 40 hours," he said.

"I've been trying to contact anybody who could have influence to get the truth across.

"Somebody puts my photo on a Facebook page indicating that there was a known paedophile in Kildare when there was no basis for that to happen.

"People need to be damn sure that about what they post on social media…There are still people today saying on Facebook that 'this man is guilty'."

Mr Murray told Phillip Boucher Hayes on RTÉ Radio One’s Liveline this afternoon he has since been told by two people that he bears no resemblance to the known paedophile.

"I was very stressed but I wasn’t particularly scared since I knew I was innocent and I knew they were completely wrong," he said.

"I know I am right and I know they are wrong.. I know I am innocent. I know they are guilty of vigilante mob action. That basically helps me with the situation."

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