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Gardai looking into circumstances behind online video incident

Monday, 12th February, 2018 4:33pm

Gardai looking into circumstances behind online video incident

Gardai are investigating an incident in Athlone on Friday where a man was confronted by members of 'Child Protection Awareness' which aims to expose paedophiles by posing as young children online.

The man, apparently in his 40s, was approached by members of the group on Friday evening close to Athlone Bus Station with the incident relayed via a Facebook live video which has been viewed over 204,000 times and shared more than 2,900 times.

During the 39 minute video the man was confronted and questioned by members of 'Child Protection Awareness', saying that he had sent messages and explicit material to a girl apparently aged 14, and had arranged to meet her.

At one point in the video, the man appeared to say in relation to the messages: “I'm sorry I did it”.

In another exchange, when the woman asked him the age of consent, he replied: “24 or 25”.

The footage ended when one of the members of the so-called 'Paedophile Hunter' group said Gardai had arrived on the scene and would take over.

When contacted by the Westmeath Independent, Sgt Andrew Haran confirmed that they had received a call about the incident and attended Athlone Bus Station on Friday evening.

He added that they are now looking into the circumstances surrounding the incident, they have spoken to the man and will be making follow-up inquiries.

There have been no arrests in the case.

The work of so-called 'Paedophile Hunter' groups who engage with people suspected of grooming underage girls online came under the spotlight earlier this year when RTE producer Kieran Creaven (55), was filmed in Leeds where he had travelled to meet up with a 13-year-old girl with whom he had made contact with online. Instead he was met by members of the Predator Exposure group.

He had flown from Dublin to meet his victim at The Queens Hotel in Leeds city centre in November last year. Kieran Creaven pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to meet a girl under the age of 16 years of age following grooming and was released on bail to be sentenced on February 12.