Jury goes out in Leeds paedophile hunter group false imprisonment trial

Jurors in the trial of a group of paedophile hunters accused of falsely imprisoning men they suspected of being child sex offenders have started deliberating.

By Alex Evans
Tuesday, 29th October 2019, 2:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 3:54 pm

The group, called Predator Exposure, confronted two men on separate occasions after they had taken part in online chats with group members who were posing as teenagers, the court heard.

UPDATE: The group has been cleared of all charges.Prosecutors allege that the defendants "overstepped the mark" in the way that they dealt with them.

Jurors at Leeds Crown Court had previously heard that the members detained and verbally abused both men and used unnecessary force against one, who was allegedly put in a headlock and dragged out of a shop against his will.

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Jordan Plain, 25, Christine James-Roberts, 43, Kelly Meadows, 39, Jordan McDonald, 18 and Dean Walls, 51, all members of a paedophile hunting group arrive at Leeds Crown Court for the beginning of a trial into charges including false imprisonment

The six defendants all deny the charges against them, and say they were making lawful citizen's arrests.

Sending the jury out to start considering their verdicts, Judge Guy Kearl QC told them they would have to consider in each case whether the men may have escaped, or caused damage to themselves, others or property, and whether it was "reasonably practicable" for a police officer to make each arrest instead of the group.

He said: "This trial is not about the methods of investigation of the police, this is about these two particular incidents. It is not about other investigations carried out by Predator Exposure or any other group.

"Sympathies and emotions must play no role in your deliberations."

Earlier in the trial, prosecutor Tom Storey told the court: "The members of this group, and those working with them, overstepped the mark and went far beyond the bounds within which they should have operated."

Jurors were told that, in August 2018, four of the defendants went to a home in Normanton, West Yorkshire, to confront a man who had talked online with a Predator Exposure member posing as a 14-year-old.

Mr Storey said that 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.

The prosecutor said that the man was left "extremely scared and upset" by what happened, and was sworn at repeatedly by the man who set up the group, Phillip Hoban, 43.

Mr Storey said that another man was confronted by five of the defendants in the Chapel Allerton area of Leeds in January 2019.

He was chased to a nearby shop, where some members of the group attempted to physically drag him outside in order to make a citizen's arrest, the prosecutor told the jury.

"The way in which the defendants went about this, and the violence they used, went way beyond anything that might have been necessary to detain him," Mr Storey said.

Both of the men who were confronted were arrested on suspicion of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity but, while Mr Storey said the prosecution accepts that the conversations between the men and the decoys did amount to criminal offences, neither of the men was charged.

Hoban, from Beeston in Leeds, and his 19-year-old son Jordan McDonald, who is from the Farnley area of Leeds, deny two counts of false imprisonment and one of common assault.

Jordan Plain, 26, from Leeds, and Dean Walls, 52, from Moortown, Leeds, deny one count of false imprisonment and one of common assault.

Kelly Meadows, 40, from Leeds, denies two counts of false imprisonment and Christine James-Roberts, 60, from Headingley, Leeds, has denied one charge of false imprisonment.