Wigan 'vigilante' attack victim admits grooming charge

Wigan Magistrates' Court Image copyright Google
Image caption Andrew O'Neill admitted a charge of grooming at Wigan Magistrates' Court

A man who was attacked and filmed after arranging to meet an under-age girl he befriended on the internet has admitted a charge of grooming.

Andrew O'Neill, 25, believed he was meeting a 14-year-old girl called Alex in Wigan, Greater Manchester.

But when he arrived at the rendezvous, he was beaten by a group of men who filmed the attack before posting it online, Wigan Magistrates' Court heard.

O'Neill, of Skelmersdale, Lancashire, will be sentenced next month.

The court heard detectives were still trying to trace the men who lured him to the town centre attack, in which two of his teeth were knocked out.

Nicola Ormerod, prosecuting, said O'Neill had booked a hotel room and was found in possession of a tube of lubricant.

A 25-year-old man from Wigan arrested by Greater Manchester Police in connection with the alleged assault and blackmail of two men has been released on police bail.

Money demands

A second man, aged 19, who is also accused of arranging to meet an under-age girl, has been released on bail.

Police said he was attacked and filmed after believing he had arranged to meet a 14-year-old girl in a church car park, in Atherton, near Wigan, at about 21:00 BST on Friday.

He escaped but later received messages allegedly demanding money and threats that the footage would be uploaded to Facebook.

He reported the attack on Saturday and was then arrested.

Later that day, at about 14:40 BST, shoppers at Market Place in Wigan witnessed O'Neill being assaulted.

The video was then posted on Facebook and has since been taken down.

O'Neill also managed to escape and reported the events to the police, who arrested him and charged him with attempting to meet a girl under 16 following grooming.

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