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Saturday 24 August 2019

Man arrested after paedophile hunters sting operation in café

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Stock picture

Ralph Riegel

GARDAÍ arrested a man after he was confronted in Cork by a group of self-styled paedophile hunters who had mounted an online 'sting' operation.

The man, who is in his 40s, was arrested by Gardaí and taken to Togher Garda Station after an incident at 12.30pm on Friday in a south Cork coffee shop.

Gardaí were called to the scene by members of Child Protection Awareness (CPA) who claimed the individual had agreed an online meeting with a girl he knew was underage after explicit online exchanges.

The man was questioned for a period before being later released without charge.

A file will now be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Gardaí confirmed an incident did occur but repeated an earlier warning about the activities of such online groups.

"An Garda Síochána does not comment on or discuss speculation about the specific activities of such groups operating in this jurisdiction," a spokespersons said.

"(However) the actions by such groups are a cause of concern for An Garda Síochána and for other police services. The actions by such groups have also been subject to adverse commentary by the judiciary recently."

"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."

"In addition, there are also concerns over the legality of the actions of such groups operating in Ireland. Finally, 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."

Gardaí stressed that they have the primary role to investigate suspected criminal activity in Ireland - and to investigate all those involved in the suspected sexual exploitation of children.

It is understood that the incident in Cork arose when CPA, with the support of its UK-based counterpart, had a fake online profile of a 14 year old activated through contact initiated by a middle-aged man.

The man, who is Irish, is alleged to have arranged to meet the girl in a coffee shop.

The meeting was arranged after it is alleged he engaged in sexually explicit online chats beforehand with the contact he believed was a teenage girl.

However, the man was then confronted in the coffee shop by volunteers with CPA.

The CPA volunteers challenged the man as they awaited the arrival of Gardaí whom they had notified.

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