MEMBERS of a so-called paedophile hunters group “over-stepped the mark” while confronting two separate males they suspected of being child sex offenders, a court heard.

The group – which has carried out a number of operations in Bradford – live-streamed themselves confronting one suspect and later making a citizens' arrest on another on their mobile phones. The two incidents happened months apart on August 11, 2018 and January 13 2019.

The group members “went far beyond the bounds” they should have operated in while detaining the two men until police arrived, Leeds Crown Court was told.

Members from Predator Exposure engaged in online chat with the two men after posing as a “decoy” purporting to be a child of 13 or 14, the court heard.


Defendants Phil Hoban, of Northcote Crescent, Beeston, Leeds, his son Jordan McDonald, of Tong Way, Farnley, Leeds, Kelly Meadows, of Raynel Drive, Headingley, Leeds and Christine James-Roberts, of Queenswood Drive, Headingley, Leeds, confronted the first man at his mother's address in Normanton, near Wakefield.

The man agreed to walk round to the back of the house and as he was being led, Hoban told him who they were and said: “We’re Predator Exposure and we’ve just exposed your arse.”

The group then surrounded the man and prevented him from leaving, even refusing to allow him to go inside to get his medication, the jury was told.

Once round the back of the house, a member of the group phoned the police, to tell them they had detained a paedophile in his back garden.

Hoban could be heard on live-stream footage referring to printed copies of the chat log and calling the man “filthy” and telling him that he will be a bit of “fresh meat” when he gets into prison.

Four months later, members of the same group attended the house of a second man who ran out of the back door after being confronted on his doorstep. He was chased down the street until he ended up at a nearby cornershop in Chapel Allerton, Leeds.

Hoban and McDonald were able to force their way into the shop, and once inside, proceeded to try to physically drag the man outside, the court heard.

But the man had hold of a counter before Hoban put his arm around his neck in a headlock type action and then told him he was under citizens arrest, the jury was told.

Another two co-accused Jordan Plain, of Tong Road, Leeds, and Dean Walls, of Saxton Road, Moortown, Leeds, then helped to prise the man's hands from the edge of the counter before bundling him out of the shop, a court heard. Once outside, the man was physically held by Hoban and prevented from leaving by members of the group who called by police, the jury was told.

Both of the two men detained by the group were arrested by police on suspicion of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity. The prosecution accepts that the conversations the two men had with the Predator Exposure decoy account amounted to a criminal offence but it was decided not to bring charges against them.

Prosecutor Tom Storey said the defendants intentionally restrained the freedom of movement of the two men.

He told a jury: “The prosecution say that on two occasions in particular, when they were live-streaming confrontations of the sort I have just described, the members of this group, and those working with them, over-stepped the mark and went far beyond the bounds within which they should have operated. In short, the prosecution say that the way in which they behaved on these two occasions involved the commission by them of the criminal offences of false imprisonment and assault.

“The defendants, for their parts, all deny that they have committed any such offences.

“They say that on the two occasions which this case concerns, they were acting as they always do, to carry out what is commonly referred to as a citizen’s arrest, by apprehending suspected child sex offenders and holding them until the police arrived and were formally able to arrest them."

Hoban, 43, of Beeston, Leeds, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of false imprisonment and one count of common assault. Meadows, 40, of Leeds, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of false imprisonment. McDonald, 19, of Farnley, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of false imprisonment and common assault. James-Roberts, 60, of Headingley, has pleaded not guilty to one count of false imprisonment. Walls, 52, of Moortown, Leeds, has pleaded not guilty to one count of false imprisonment and common assault. Plain, 26, of Leeds, has pleaded not guilty to one count of false imprisonment and common assault.

The trial continues.