Jury told Leeds paedophile hunters had 'no legal basis' for detaining suspected sex offenders

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Six members of a Leeds paedophile hunter group have gone on trial accused of false imprisonment over claims they illegally detained suspected sex offenders.

A jury heard how members of the Predator Exposure group live-streamed footage as they detained two men after confronting them at their homes in West Yorkshire.

Leeds Crown Court

Leeds Crown Court

Leeds Crown Court was told how one man was called a "nonse" and was verbally abused as he was detained at his home in Featherstone.

The second man was confronted at his home in Chapel Allerton, Leeds, and filmed as he was chased to a nearby shop.

Tom Storey, prosecuting, said the man was then assaulted as he was placed in a headlock and "bundled" into the street outside.

Neither of the men confronted by the group were subsequently charged with offences relating to the incidents.

Defendants: Jordan Plain, Christine James-Roberts, Kelly Meadows, Jordan McDonald and Dean Walls arrive for trial at Leeds Crown Court

Defendants: Jordan Plain, Christine James-Roberts, Kelly Meadows, Jordan McDonald and Dean Walls arrive for trial at Leeds Crown Court

Mr Storey said: "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 part, all deny that they have committed any such offence.

"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 citizens'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 this case."

Phillip Hoban, 'leader' of Predator Exposure, outside Leeds Crown Court.

Phillip Hoban, 'leader' of Predator Exposure, outside Leeds Crown Court.

The prosecutor explained to jurors how paedophile hunter organisations sought to expose sex offenders who target children online.

Group members set up 'decoy' social media profiles pretending to be of a child and then engage in online conversations.

Mr Storey said groups often gather evidence if the conversation becomes sexual in nature.

He said: "At this point, some groups will provide this information to the police, to let them investigate and deal with the person communicating with the false child.

Jordan McDonald faces two charges of false imprisonment and one of assault

Jordan McDonald faces two charges of false imprisonment and one of assault

"Other groups, however, choose to take matters in to their own hands, and take it upon themselves to confront the individual and present them with evidence of what amounts to a criminal offence.

"Such confrontations are sometimes filmed, and in some cases live-streamed onto a social media platform such as Facebook.

"The result is that an audience of potentially thousands of people are able to watch in real time the confrontations which take place."

The jury heard group leader Phillip Hoban and three other members - Christine James-Roberts, Kelly Meadows and Jordan McDonald - went to confront a man at his home in Featherstone on August 11 last year.

The defendants were wearing black-clothing and hi-viz jackets when they knocked on the door and asked to speak to the man.

Mr Storey described the man as a "vulnerable individual" who had been diagnosed with ADHD.

Kelly Meadows is accused of two offences of false imprisonment.

Kelly Meadows is accused of two offences of false imprisonment.

As the group led the man down the side of the house Hoban told him who they were, saying: "We're Predator Exposure and we've just exposed your a***."

Mr Storey said Hoban could also be heard on the footage calling him a "flithy c***" and telling him he would be "fresh meat" when he gets into prison.

The court heard the man began crying and Hoban seemed to have realised he was vulnerable as he was heard to say that he was "not f****** tuned in right."

The man was arrested between 20 and 30 minutes later when police arrived but no decision was taken to charge him with any offence arising out of his contact with the group.

The second incident happened on January 13 this year when members of the group went to an address in Chapel Allerton, Leeds.

The man ran from his house after answering his door to group members.

He went to a local shop where he asked the owner to call the police.

The court heard Hoban and his son McDonald forced their way into the shop and tried to drag the man outside.

Mr Storey said Hoban put his arm around the man's neck and pulled his head while telling him he was under a citizen's arrest.

Two other defendants - Jordan Plain and Dean Walls - are then alleged to have helped to get the man out of the shop where he was held and surrounded by group members.

The prosecutor said: "Phillip Hoban in particular used the opportunity to verbally abuse him while physically holding onto his clothing, calling him a "dirty horrible b******", a "child rapist" and an "animal".

Police arrived and arrested the man as McDonald continued to film and live-stream the process up until the point he was placed in a police vehicle.

A decision was later made not the charge the man.

Mr Storey told the jury: "In conclusion, the prosecution say that in relation to both these individuals, the defendants had no legal basis for acting as they did."

Referring to the second incident, he added: "The way the defendants manhandled him inside the shop simply amounted to an assault on him; there was no need whatsoever for them to use the level of force they did in order to physically drag him out of the shop."

The six defendants on trial are:

Phillip Hobban, 43, of Northcote Terrace, Beeston. Pleads not guilty to two charges of false imprisonment and one of assault.

Christine James-Roberts, 60, of Queenswood Drive, Headingley, Pleads not guilty to one charge of false imprisonment.

Kelly Meadows, 40, of Reynel Drive, Leeds. Pleads not guilty to two charges of false imprisonment.

Jordan McDonald, 19, of Tong Way, Farnley. Pleads not guilty to two charges of false imprisonment and one of assault.

Jordan Plain, 26, of Tong Road, Farnley. Pleads not guilty to one charge of false imprisonment and one of assault.

Dean Walls, 52, of Saxton Road, Moortown. Pleads not guilty to one charge of false imprisonment and one of assault.

The trial continues.

Jordan Plain is accused of false imprisonment and assault

Jordan Plain is accused of false imprisonment and assault

Christine James-Roberts is accused of one offence of false imprisonment.

Christine James-Roberts is accused of one offence of false imprisonment.

Dean Walls is accused of false imprisonment and assault

Dean Walls is accused of false imprisonment and assault