Meet the group who posed as 13-year-old when talking to RTE producer (55), leading to his arrest
Predator Exposure is a group of activists who have grown in the West Yorkshire area over the last 15 months or so after one of its founding members was asked by a friend to help track down a man who had been messaging his daughter.
Now numbering in the region of 20 members, they actively pursue paedophiles by setting up fake social media accounts.
On Monday Leeds Magistrate Court heard that Kieran Creaven (55), an RTE Sports producer, had been approached by a group who had set up a fictitious online account using the details of a 13 year old girl that he believed he was meeting at a hotel.
He is charged with attempting to meet a child under 16 following grooming. The second charge was attempting to court or incite a girl aged 13 to 15 to engage in sexual activity.
He did not enter a plea to the charges and was granted bail.
Independent.ie met up with the core group of Predator Exposure at Leeds Crown Court, where they were watching cases they had instigated being tried.
Made up of men and women from younger to older age brackets, they pursue their quarry with zeal and determination.
“After I got the offender who was contacting my friend’s daughter I got asked by other people if I could help out with people being messaging their daughters, so I just carried it on from there. I started off by myself doing a decoy (making fictitious social media profiles) and now we've built up a team because there are that many of them out there,” said Phil, the founding member.
“We cover West Yorkshire and all over this island. The group is growing,” he added.
“All we do is make a fake profile and wait for men to ‘add’ that profile and start talking to us. We don't start talking to them. They talk to our fake profile,” he explained.
“We set up the profile and our decoy will run that one profile from start to finish so there is continuity and they don't get mixed up with who they are supposed to be online.
Phil said the group has a good relationship with the police in the UK.
They film every approach to a target for everyone's protection.
“Everyone we go on we learn something different from, but from day one we’ve filmed it so a person can't say we made them say something. As soon as we make contact with them we call the police. Sometimes we’ve waited three hours for them to arrive,” he said.
Asked if the activities of Predator Exposure could constitute entrapment or false imprisonment, Phil was quick to point out how his group reads the situation.
“We can't get done for entrapment because we’re just normal members of the public, (not the police force),” he said.
“As regards taking a phone off somebody and detaining him we are performing a citizen’s arrest because we believe he has committed a crime. If he does try to escape we tell them we will use reasonable force to detain them,” Phil explained.
Another member of the group said: "We set up a profile and it starts getting ‘adds’ on Facebook and messages through the Messenger system. They always approach us first, we never approach them first, and they just set a chat up and maybe say “Hiya” to which I would respond “do I know you?” And we always give our age at the start of the chat and it goes on from there.”
“We do not have a target in mind, we just get mutual friend ‘adds’ on Facebook like you would normally.
“We always give people the benefit of the doubt, we always give them a chance to block you, some of them do block, some of them don't.
“He first made contact in July this year and things escalated over a few weeks but I can't divulge what was said as I’m a witness in the case now.
“We don't use photos of children, because otherwise we’d be feeding them what they want."