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Sunday 15 September 2019

Gardai make arrest over alleged sexual offence after Facebook footage shows 'sting operation by girl (14)'

  • Operation by the self-styled justice group in Midlands town
  • Gardai arrest man following sting by child predator vigilantes
Gardai carried out the operation in Longford this morning
Gardai carried out the operation in Longford this morning
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

Gardai have arrested a man following a sting operation by a self-styled justice group targeting suspected child sexual predators.

A video posted online shows members of the group confronting a man as he sits in a car in the town.

The footage, which lasts for around 20 minutes, was streamed live on the group’s Facebook account and has been viewed almost 420,000 times.

It is alleged that the individual groomed a 14-year-old girl online over a period of time, and that he was in the area to meet up with the teenager.

It later emerges that the girl was a decoy, and that the man was in conversation with members of the justice group.

A man in his 40s was arrested in the town last night and was brought to a nearby garda station.

It is understood that he is being held under sexual offences legislation.

A garda spokesman said that they could not comment on the incident for operational reasons.

The man, who is identified in the video, is quizzed by at least two women who state that they travelled from Belfast to confront him.

They then removed his car keys from the ignition before asking him to step out and questioning him about what he is doing in the area.

It is alleged throughout that the individual asked the teenager to perform sex acts on herself, and that he would send pictures of his penis to her.

When questioned about what he was doing in the area, the man responds: "I wasn’t going to do nothing" and "I didn’t know she was 14".

He repeatedly states that he is sorry throughout the video.

When asked what he would do if someone groomed one of his younger relatives, he responds: "Probably kill them."

"I would never have touched anyone. I’m a scumbag," he adds.

Gardai are then called to the scene, and put the individual in handcuffs before placing him into a marked patrol car.

A source last night said that, despite the justice groups "heart appearing to be in the right place", the footage could present major complications for the investigation team.

"The fact that this footage was streamed live on Facebook and was viewed by hundreds of thousands of people will prove a major headache for gardai.

"The man is clearly identified and his name is mentioned throughout," the source said.

In August an Antrim man took his own life after they confronted him on his doorstep in relation to the alleged online grooming of a teenage girl.

The group claimed that the man had sent naked photographs to a member posing as a 14-year-old girl and had responded to another fake account.

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