'We are just parents who care about kids': Paedophile hunter group leader criticised government inaction after arrest

On trial: Jordan Plain, Christine James-Roberts, Kelly Meadows, Jordan McDonald and Dean Walls face false imprisonment charges
On trial: Jordan Plain, Christine James-Roberts, Kelly Meadows, Jordan McDonald and Dean Walls face false imprisonment charges
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The leader of paedophile hunter group said it had taken police eight months to take action after he passed information to them about a suspected sex offender, jurors heard.

Phillip Hoban gave the account when he was interviewed after being arrested on suspicion of the false imprisonment of two men members of his group confronted in an online "sting".

Predator Exposure 'leader' Phillip Hoban denies false imprisonment and assault charges at Leeds Crown Court

Predator Exposure 'leader' Phillip Hoban denies false imprisonment and assault charges at Leeds Crown Court

Hoban and five other defendants are on trial at Leeds Crown Court in relation to two incidents in which it is claimed they went "far beyond" the bounds within which they operated.

Tom Storey, prosecuting, said Hoban was "clearly the leader" of the Predator Exposure Group.

Jurors were told Hoban was interviewed following his arrest and said his group used reasonable force where necessary.

Hoban also said the group always confronted their suspect before contacting police and almost always live-streamed footage of the confrontations, which he referred to as "stings".

Mr Storey said: "When asked why they did not contact police before commencing any confrontation, Hoban said that they had once given information to the police about an alleged offender and it had taken them eight months to do anything about it, during which time, the person in question had continued to communicate with the decoy account."

Hoban also claimed that that he was carrying out a "citizen's arrest" during the confrontations.

Mr Storey said Hoban made reference to a piece of legislation which allows someone other than a police constable to arrest another person - section 24A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

Hoban also told police he had been a professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter.

Mr Storey added: "He said they (the group) were not professional, and learned from their mistakes; they were not vigilantes, but were just parents who care about kids and not enough getting done by this government."

The court heard some of the defendants had previously been issued with 'Cease and Desist' notices by the police, effectively telling them to stop doing what they were doing.

The prosecutor said: "These notices had no effect whatsoever. The defendants simply chose to ignore them.

"When the police saw the footage relating to these two incidents, they were sufficiently concerned by what they saw that they made the decision that there were grounds to suspect the defendants had committed one or more criminal offences."

Jordan McDonald, Hoban's son, said in interview that his role in the group was "admin".

Mr Storey said: "He confirmed that they would not contact police until they had identified the perpetrator, because otherwise they would be wasting police time and it could enable a perpetrator to destroy evidence."

Mr Storey said Kelly Meadows was "quite cagey" about the group's members when she was interviewed.

He added: "When asked whether this was all about the glory, she said it was not for her, she wanted to help children and to get rid of online groomers."

Jordan Plain told police he was not a member of Predator Exposure but had been contacted by Hoban and asked to act as security in relation to one of the incidents.

Dean Walls also said he was not a member of Predator Exposure, but belonged to a different group called "Netjustice."

Walls said he did not like the way Predator Exposure operated and said Hoban was "too aggressive".

He said that paedophile hunter groups often helped each other.

Christine James-Roberts gave no comment when interviewed by police.

The six defendants on trial are:

Phillip Hoban, 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.