Tuesday 26 March 2019

Man confronted by 'paedophile hunters' was later victim of violent street attack

Stock photo
Stock photo
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

Gardaí issued a warning about the activities of online "paedophile hunting" groups as 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 yesterday at around 4.30pm.

A group recorded its confrontation with an individual, who they accused of sending sexually explicit images to a 14-year-old girl.

In the clip, broadcast live on Facebook, the man then 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 paedophile hunter group.

A Garda spokesman said they do not comment on the specific activities 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 Siochána 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 was the role of the gardaí to investigate crime and enforce legislation.

He 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 Nortúin said she had passed the incident but wasn't aware at the time what was happening.

"I only became aware afterwards," she said.

"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, people 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."

Ms De Nortúin said she didn't condone the violence and questioned whether such groups had 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 Nortúin said she had heard locally that he was "in a very bad way".

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News