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hunter hunted Face of 'paedo hunter' caught with indecent image of child

The 32-year-old had previously been convicted of intimidating a reporter who revealed 'paedo hunter' group's controversial tactics

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Tim Heron

Tim Heron

Tim Heron

This is the paedo hunter hypocrite convicted this week of having an indecent child image.

Tim Heron told a court the illegal pornographic images must have been put on his phone without his knowledge by a fellow paedophile hunter but a judge described that claim as “unbelievable” and “not remotely credible”.

Self-appointed judge, jury and executioner Heron launched a crusade against alleged child sex offenders when he fronted a group of so-called ‘paedophile hunters’ six years ago.

But this week he was placed on the Sex Offenders Register and will be sentenced later this year.

We can reveal the 32-year-old was once convicted in 2019 of intimidating ex-BBC reporter Kevin Magee who was reporting on his group’s controversial tactics.

And in the same year the Sunday World revealed how Heron had been convicted of assaulting a Co Down man after setting him up in a ‘sting’.

Heron and his group associate Richard Curtis had set up the man with a so-called 14-year-old girl who was in fact a ‘decoy’ adult posing as a child.

But rather than going to the PSNI with their ‘evidence’, Omagh Magistrates Court was told the paedophile hunters, including Heron and Curtis, obtained the man’s address and went to his home.

The man and his father were both assaulted while his mother was verbally abused – for which Heron and Curtis were convicted in court.

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BBC's Kevin Magee is approached by a Predator Catchers N.I member in a non related manor

BBC's Kevin Magee is approached by a Predator Catchers N.I member in a non related manor

BBC's Kevin Magee is approached by a Predator Catchers N.I member in a non related manor

Despite the court being told that the man had made “admissions” to police when arrested, Judge Bernie Kelly ‘stayed’ a charge of sexual communication with a child against him because of the behaviour of Heron and his gang.

And in the process she described the so-called paedophile hunters’ behaviour and “unregulated” methods as “an affront to public justice”.

But this week Heron was back in court to face charges of having illegal pornography – including an image of a child being abused.

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According to Court News NI, Heron, with an address listed as Well Road in Ballywalter but now said to be living in England, had contested the six charges he faced at Newtownards Magistrates Court.

He was charged with one count that he ‘made’ a Category B indecent photo of a child on a date unknown between January 23, 2018 and February 20, 2018 and five counts of possessing an ‘extreme pornographic image’.

District Judge Mark Hamill convicted Heron of all the charges.

A prosecutor said on February 19, 2018, police attended the defendant’s then home address at Cloverhill Vale in Bangor in a “pre-planned search in relation to the activity of ‘paedophile hunters’.”

His phone was seized and disturbing images were discovered.

The defendant told the court that in 2018 he had been part of a ‘paedophile hunting group’.

He said the group would set up profiles on dating apps and ‘decoys’ would be used to lure suspected paedophiles to “stings” and evidence would be sent to police.

The defendant admitted he was one of a number of people previously prosecuted for what a defence lawyer referred to as “crossing the line” with a “BBC reporter” who had been reporting on ‘paedophile hunters’.

Heron accepted there were images on his own phone but denied he was downloading images for his own gratification.

When asked if the images may have got onto his phone while being used during ‘decoy’ work by other members of the ‘paedophile hunter’ group, Heron said he didn’t know how the images, he described as “abhorrent,” came to be there.

Judge Hamill said the suggestion had been made that material found on the defendant’s phone “had nothing to do with him” and “someone unknown,” in the “so-called paedophile hunter group, had, for some unknown reason chosen to download child pornography onto the defendant’s personal phone as opposed to onto a number of ‘decoy’ phones that were available”.

The judge said such a suggestion was “just unbelievable” and “not remotely credible”.

Convicting him, Judge Hamill placed Heron on the Sex Offenders Register and sentencing was adjourned to June for a pre-sentence report to be prepared.

The defence lawyer said the defendant is now living in England on a “temporary basis” as his “personal safety was at risk”.

In February of 2019 Heron and Richard Curtis were convicted of a separate incident involving Kevin Magee, then a BBC reporter.

Mr Magee was confronted by the group at a coffee shop on Botanic Avenue in south Belfast. The defendants were convicted of disorderly behaviour and trying by force, threat or menace to cause Mr Magee not to broadcast a TV interview.

steven.moore@sundayworld.com

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