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Paedophile hunters ‘told suspect he would be fresh meat in prison’

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A so-called paedophile hunters group “over-stepped the mark” while confronting two separate men they suspected of being child sex offenders, a court heard.

Defendant Phil Hoban called a man they confronted a “filthy c*nt” and told him he would be a bit of “fresh meat” when he gets into prison, the court was told.

Members from Predator Exposure live-streamed themselves challenging one suspect and making a citizens’ arrest on another.

The two incidents happened months apart on Saturday, August 11, 2018 and Sunday, January 13, 2019.

The group members “went far beyond the bounds” they should have operated in while detaining the two men until police arrived, Leeds Crown Court was told.

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Jordan Plain was a member of the paedophile hunting group

They engaged in online chat with the two men after posing as a “decoy” purporting to be a child of 13 or 14, a court heard.

Defendants Phil Hoban, his son Jordan McDonald, Kelly Meadows and Christine James-Roberts confronted a man at his mother’s address in Normanton, West Yorkshire.

The man agreed to walk round to the back of the house and as he was being led, Hoban told him who they were and said: “We’re Predator Exposure and we’ve just exposed your arse.”

The group then surrounded the man and prevented him from leaving, even refusing to allow him to go inside to get his medication, a jury of seven men and five women were told.

Once round the back of the house, a member of the group phoned the police, to tell them they had detained a paedophile in his back garden.

Four months later, members of the same group attended the address of a second man who ran out of the backdoor of his house after being confronted on his doorstep.

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Christine James-Roberts is on trial

He was chased down the street until he ended up at a nearby corner shop in Chapel Allerton near Leeds.

Hoban and McDonald were able to force their way into the shop, and once inside, proceeded to try to physically drag the man outside.

But the man had hold of a counter to stop being taken outside before Hoban put his arm around his neck in a headlock type action and told him he was under citizens arrest, a court heard.

Another two co-accused Jordan Plain and Dean Walls then helped to prise the man’s hands from the edge of the counter before bundling him out of the shop, the court was told.

Once outside, the man was physically held by Hoban and prevented from leaving by members of the group who called by police, a jury was told.

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Both of the two men detained by the group were arrested by police on suspicion of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

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Jordan McDonald, 18, was one of the six on trial

The prosecution accepts that the conversations the two men had with the Predator Exposure decoy account amounted to a criminal offence, but it was decided not to bring charges against them.

Prosecutor Tom Storey said the defendants intentionally restrained the freedom of movement of the two men and “went far beyond the bounds” they should have operated in.

He told a jury: “The prosecution say that on two occasions in particular, when they were live-streaming confrontations of the sort I have just described, the members of this group, and those working with them, over-stepped the mark and went far beyond the bounds within which they should have operated.

“In short, the prosecution say that the way in which they behaved on these two occasions involved the commission by them of the criminal offences of false imprisonment and assault.

“The defendants, for their parts, all deny that they have committed any such offences.

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Dean Walls arrived at Leeds Crown Court

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“They say that on the two occasions which this case concerns, they were acting as they always do, to carry out what is commonly referred to as a citizen’s arrest, by apprehending suspected child sex offenders and holding them until the police arrived and were formally able to arrest them.

“Essentially, this will be the issue for you to resolve once you have heard the evidence in the case.”

Hoban, 43, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of false imprisonment and one count of common assault.

Meadows, 40, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of false imprisonment.

McDonald, 19, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of false imprisonment and common assault.

Walls, 52 and Plain, 25 both pleaded not guilty to one count of false imprisonment and common assault.

James-Roberts, 60, has pleaded not guilty to one count of false imprisonment.

The trial continues.