'irony' | 

Self-styled paedophile hunter convicted of having child abuse image 'risk to public' court hears

In 2018 police searched Heron’s home in a 'pre-planned search in relation to the activity of paedophile hunters'

Tim Heron

Paul Higgins

A self-appointed vigilante paedophile hunter turned convicted pervert is himself a risk to the public, a court has heard.

Newtownards Magistrates Court heard that Tim Heron poses a “medium risk of sexual recidivism” after the 32-year-old was convicted of having a child abuse image and imposing a six month jail sentence but suspending it for three years, District Judge Mark Hamill commented how “there is a certain irony” in the case.

Ordering Heron to sign the police sex offenders register for five years, the judge said given the content of the reports he also deemed it “necessary and proportionate” to impose a five year Sexual Offences Prevention Order to protect the public from further offences.

At the end of his brief contest earlier this year Heron, originally from Cloverhill Vale in Bangor but now living in Suffolk having fled there under threat, was convicted of one count of having a category B indecent image of a child and five counts of having extreme pornography on dates unknown between 1 December 2016 and 20 February 2018.

According to legal guidelines, Category B images involve children in non-penetrative sexual activity and the court heard that on February 19, 2018, police searched Heron’s home in a “pre-planned search in relation to the activity of paedophile hunters” and discovered the depraved and disgusting material on a mobile phone.

Giving evidence on his own behalf, Heron claimed he had been part of a “paedophile hunting group” which would set up profiles on dating apps and use “decoys” to lure suspected perverts to “stings” with the evidence then sent to police.

While he accepted there were images on his own phone, he denied he was downloading images for his own gratification but convicting Heron on each count, DJ Hamill labelled his story as “just unbelievable…not remotely credible”.

Lodging a plea in mitigation on Thursday, defence counsel Mark Farrell confirmed that Heron still maintains his innocence but conceded the pervert is not stranger to a criminal court as he has convictions for trying to intimidate BBC journalist Kevin Magee from asking them questions.

In 2019 hypocrite Heron was handed a restraining order and 150 hour Community Service Order after he and two other self-appointed vigilantes were involved in an incident with the highly respected journalist who was investigating their activities.

George Keenan, Richard Curtis and Heron were convicted of disorderly behaviour, attempted intimidation and obstructing a road.

That same year Curtis and Heron were back in court after a so-called sting went wrong and they ended up assaulting their target.

Using an adult decoy posing as a 14-year-old girl, Heron and Curtis set up a meeting but instead of sending their alleged evidence to the cops, the pair anointed themselves as judge, jury and executioner and went to his home, assaulting both the intended target and his dad and hurling abuse at his mum.

Even though the target made admissions during police questioning, District Judge Bernie Kelly threw the case out of court because of the vigilantes’ actions which she said were “an affront to public justice”.

On Thursday, Mr Farrell said Heron stood by his precious claims about the images being on his phone “for a legitimate purpose” because he was a paedophile hunter but DJ Hamill said simply “I have already rejected them”.

As part of his SOPO, Heron is prohibited from unsupervised access with kids, from residing anywhere with permission from his Designated Risk Manager, from entering any intimate or romantic relationship turnout disclosing his convictions, from using any social media without permission from his DRM and he has to register any mobile internet device.

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