Leeds & West Yorkshire

Leeds-based paedophile hunters group cleared of assault

Leeds Crown Court. Image copyright PA
Image caption The six members of the group deny all the charges against them at Leeds Crown Court

A group of so-called paedophile hunters accused of assault and falsely imprisoning men they suspected of being child sex offenders have been acquitted.

Six members of Leeds-based Predator Exposure had confronted two men on separate occasions.

Both men were arrested on suspicion of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity but were not charged.

The members of the group were cleared of by a jury at Leeds Crown Court.

Speaking after being cleared, one of the defendants, Philip Hoban, who set up the group, said: "This is just the first start and we'll be back hunting, very soon. Tune in people."

Those cleared included:

  • Phillip Hoban, 43, and his son, Jordan McDonald, 19, both from Leeds, were cleared of two counts of false imprisonment and one of common assault
  • Jordan Plain, 26, from Leeds, and Dean Walls, 52, from Moortown, were acquitted of one count of false imprisonment and one of common assault
  • Kelly Meadows, 40, from Leeds, was cleared of two counts of false imprisonment
  • Christine James-Roberts, 60, from Leeds, was acquitted of one charge of false imprisonment.

The charges related to two incidents.

Four of the defendants had in 2018 confronted a man in Normanton, West Yorkshire, who had talked online with a Predator Exposure member posing as a 14-year-old.

The man, who was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and is believed to be on the autistic spectrum, was prevented from leaving his back garden and going inside his home to get his medication.

Five of the defendants confronted another man in the Chapel Allerton area of Leeds in January this year.

The six had denied the charges saying they were making lawful citizen's arrests.

Prosecutors accepted the conversations between the men and the decoys did amount to criminal offences though neither was charged.

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