A VIGILANTE with “a loathing for sex offenders” who attacked a suspected paedophile after tricking him in a sting operation has been jailed for eight months.
Andrew O’Neill arrived in Wigan town centre expecting to meet a teenage school girl he had been grooming via an online dating website and go to a hotel with her.
But the girl did not exist and his increasingly sexualised comments to the teenager, who had said she was 14, were in fact being answered by a vigilante group.
When he got to Market Place in Wigan he was met by a waiting gang who filmed the attack by one of them, Daniel Holding. The video was then posted on Facebook with the tag “NWI Nonce Busters”, referring to the right-wing group, the North West Infidels.
Holding, who head butted him, cracking two of his teeth, was today (Fri) jailed for eight months.
Judge Mark Brown told 25-year-old Holding: “The state cannot permit individuals to take the law into their own hands whatever the motives might be. Vigilante behaviour such as this cannot be tolerated.
“This was not a situation in which you sought to detect a sex offender and just report him to the police. You met him in Wigan town centre and imposed retribution upon him when you head butted him causing serious injuries to his mouth.
“You may have a loathing for sex offenders but I am satisfied this gave you the opportunity to use violence for what you perceived to be justifiable reasons.
“You described your actions in the street as ‘paedo hunting’ and ‘nonce busting.’”
The judge pointed out that Holding has previous convictions for violence and has breached court orders.
Holding, of Bridge’s Street, Atherton, pleaded guilty to assaulting 25-year-old O’Neill causing actual bodily harm.
Lianne Birkett, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court that the area of the attack was busy at the time of the attack in April and two witnesses contacted the police. Holding was also clearly visible in the video posted on Facebook and he was arrested the next day.
O’Neill, of no fixed abode, was jailed for 12 months for grooming by a judge last month.