A vigilante group humiliated a paedophile in front of thousands of people as they confronted him for targeting young girls online.
Christopher Dalton, 33, was quizzed by the Our Team paedophile hunters about explicit images he sent to investigators posing as girls aged 12 and 13.
The group mocked him about his trainers and the size of his forehead and repeatedly pranked him as they streamed the encounter live on Facebook.
Using a filter, the group framed him wearing a ‘Wee Willie Winkie’ blue nightcap with a children’s lullaby playing in the background as he appeared lethargic and slow while being quizzed.
As the pervert asked why he was being questioned, one of the investigators showed him the evidence and told him: ‘Let’s play a game – I spy with my little eye, something beginning with P.’
Dalton also agreed to put his finger on his nose, close his left eye and stick his tongue out as part of a ‘promise’ not to communicate with children online again.
As he had dilated blood shot eyes, he was told to walk in a straight line with his finger on his nose as part of a ‘drugs test’ when asked if he was under the influence.
When he asked if he could smoke and requested a ‘light’, he looked puzzled as he was offered a mobile phone with the torch lit by one of the investigators, who said: ‘Well you did say you wanted a light!’
The 22 minute video was viewed 148,000 times but appears to have since been removed from the group’s Facebook page.
Dalton was arrested after police arrived at the scene of the confrontation in Middleton, near Rochdale, Greater Manchester.
He later admitted charges of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and has since spent five months behind bars awaiting trial.
At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, the belittling tactics of the paedo-hunters were condemned by defence lawyers acting for Dalton.
But Judge Paul Lawton said the public humiliation was justified.
He added: ‘People who act in this way become social pariahs I’m afraid. This is part of the punishment he has inflicted on himself.”
The judge told Dalton: ‘It was made quite clear to you these were young girls in their formative years and yet you quickly turned your conversation to sexual matters.
‘You were under the influence of alcohol and you have been described as an alcoholic drinking can after can of lager throughout the day. You have been to prison for five months. That allows me to suspend your sentence.’
At a previous hearing, the court heard how on November 22, 2019, the vigilante group contacted Dalton posing as a 12-year-old girl named Lucy May Connor.
When she told him her age, the predator said he ‘didn’t mind’, send her a picture of his erect penis and told her he was ‘hard’, the court was told.
That same day, another decoy posing as 13-year-old Scarlett Davies contacted Dalton on Facebook.
After telling him her age he began sending messages and asked to set up a video call with her.Diego Maradona dead aged 60 after cardiac arrest
Prosecutor Andrew Mackintosh told the court: ‘According to the decoy he appeared to be drunk and was slurring his words.
‘He showed her a pornographic video involving two men having sex with a woman. Arrangements were made for the defendant to meet both “girls”.
‘Five days later he went to a pub where he was approached by these decoys, was arrested, his mobile was taken and he was interviewed by police where he gave “no comment” replies.’
Dalton had no previous convictions. His is lawyer Ben Knight said: ‘This is perhaps a case where vigilante action has had a disproportionate impact on the defendant.
‘A live stream on Facebook was full of threats and abuse, has had to distance himself from family and has been assaulted several times in the street by people who have seen the Facebook post.
‘These vigilantes seem to have taken the law into their own hands and their actions may have had a greater impact on him than in other, similar cases.’
Dalton was given an 18 month sentence, suspended for two years, and will have to complete the Horizon programme for sex offenders plus a 12 month alcohol treatment programme.
He was ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for ten years and will be the subject of a 10 year Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
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