Tuesday 16 October 2018

'Dubliner' arrested in Belfast accused of grooming 'boy' (14)

The Police Service of Northern Ireland
The Police Service of Northern Ireland
Stock picture

Ryan Nugent

A vigilante group in the North is claiming it caught a man who travelled from Dublin to Belfast in order to have sex with what he thought was a child.

The group alleges that the man attempted to groom a 14-year-old boy and had sent a number of lewd messages.

However, the 'child' in question was an adult decoy used in order to catch the predator.

The group said that when it confronted him, he assaulted a number of members.

He can be heard screaming "help" repeatedly in the live video, which was streamed on social media.

The incident was said to have happened on Tuesday night.

Trapped

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) told the Herald that a man had been arrested on suspicion of sexually grooming a child on the night.

However, a spokesperson declined to confirm that the suspect was the same man trapped by the vigilante group, or provide details of where he was from.

The suspect (32) was apprehended by the PSNI in Belfast city centre.

He was questioned by officers before being released without charge, the PSNI said.

"Police arrested a 32-year-old male in the Glengall Street area of Belfast on Tuesday, January 16, on suspicion of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming and attempted sexual communication with a child," the spokesperson said.

"The man was interviewed at Musgrave Station before being released on bail pending further police enquiries."

A number of sting operations have taken place on both sides of the border in recent months in relation to child grooming.

Earlier this month, a Dublin man was investigated by gardai for attempting to groom an 11-year-old.

The man (41), from Artane, was quizzed for two hours at Blanchardstown Garda Station and handed his phone over to gardai. It is understood he had seven social media profiles.

A so-called citizen's arrest was made by four members of vigilante group Justice Reborn.

The incident took place at a shopping centre car park in Blanchardstown.

The vigilante group is also understood to have handed over at least one device as part of the investigation.

Gardai have said that they do not condone such sting operations.

Last year, a former RTE producer, Kieran Creaven, was sacked by the national broadcaster after pleading guilty to grooming and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

The grooming took place over a four-month period, in which he sent vile messages to a person he believed to be a 13-year-old girl.

Sting

However, the 'child' was a member of a vigilante group acting as a decoy.

Creaven (55) was arrested in November after being confronted by Predator Exposure, a self-styled paedophile hunter group, in a sting operation in Leeds.

Creaven admitted to, on one occasion or more, attempting to meet up or communicate with a 13-year-old girl following grooming.

This sentence carries a maximum prison term of 10 years under the UK Sexual Offences Act 2003.

He also admitted attempting to engage or incite a girl aged between 13 and 15 to engage in sexual activity, which can result in a maximum prison term of 14 years.

Herald

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News