Paedophile hunters criticised in court after setting up fake child's Whatsapp account

editorial image

An online paedophile hunter group was slammed in court after it was claimed its members could have jeopardised a sex offender's trial.

The vigilante group Wolf Pack Hunters UK set up a fake child social media account and were contacted by a man who believed he was chatting to a 12-year-old boy called Cameron.

Craig Raeburn, from East Lothian in Scotland, sent the bogus schoolboy Whatsapp pics of his erect penis and made sexual comments about engaging in “oral sex” and “full sex” during the online chats in March this year.

Raeburn was subsequently confronted by the Wolf Pack Hunter members during an alleged sting at Edinburgh Waverley Station. The disgraced former NHS boss, 54, admitted two offences at a trial hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last week where he was remanded in custody ahead of sentencing later this month.

But during the hearing, prosecutor Fraser Matheson made scathing comments about the Wolf Pack Hunter’s methods for putting Raeburn’s conviction at risk. The fiscal said during the online chats the adult decoy had “induced and encouraged” Raeburn, a former youth football coach, to continue with his depraved activities.

Mr Matheson said: “It is accurate to describe the group as a vigilante group and neither the police or the Crown encourages individuals to join such groups or to engage in vigilante activities.

“The group uses decoys on chat sites and social media and they adopt the persona of a child. If anyone makes indecent contact with the fictitious child the group ultimately reports matters to the police.”

The fiscal said Raeburn made contact with the online decoy just four days after a Skype account had been set up in March this year. Mr Matheson added:

“Throughout the messages there are elements of inducement or encouragement on the part of the decoy which are of some concern. In the messages the decoy, posing as the child, asked when he might see the genitals in real life.

“There was an element of encouragement on the part of the decoy."

The Crown refused to comment officially but a spokesperson did confirm the COPFS did not work alongside any paedophile hunter group on criminal cases.

On Monday Raeburn had a plea of not guilty to making arrangements to meet the boy at the capital’s Waverley Station with the intention of engaging in sexual activity with or in the presence of the child accepted as part of a plea bargain. A not guilty plea to Raeburn breaching his Sex Offenders Supervision Order (SOPO) by being in possession of an electronic device between March 17 and 28 this year was also accepted by the Crown. Raeburn was also jailed for 14 months last April after he was a caught with more than 1400 child abuse images and 20 revolting videos – some at the most extreme end of the spectrum - despite trying to delete most of the files.

But officers used specialist computer software to recover most of the evidence and associated file names. He was placed on the sex offenders register for ten years and handed a five-year SOPO following his release from prison.

Raeburn, 54, was subsequently sacked from his position as a practitioner services manager with the NHS following last year’s conviction. He no longer has any involvement with local youth football club Cockenzie Star.