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Warning after paedophile brings ‘right to privacy' case

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PAEDOPHILE-hunter Cheyenne O’Connor has warned that more children in the UK will be groomed if offenders are given greater protection following a case in the Supreme Court.

Cheyenne O'Connor

The 27-year-old spoke out after a sex offender caught by paedophile vigilantes in Scotland brought a case to the court claiming that his human rights had been breached.

In 2018, Mark Sutherland was arrested after sending sexual messages and images to members of the Groom Resisters Scotland group, who were posing online as a 13-year-old boy.

Sutherland arranged to meet the ‘boy’ at a bus station, but when he arrived was confronted by the group, who broadcast the encounter on social media and handed the evidence to the police.

The 37-year-old, who had previous convictions for sending indecent images to a boy, was subsequently convicted of attempting to communicate indecently with a child and was jailed for two years.

He is now arguing that his right to a private life, enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, has been breached.

UK paedophile-hunter groups have expressed concern that if the court rules in Sutherland’s favour, their actions would be curtailed and more offenders could escape detection.

Miss O’Connor, who has helped to catch 25 offenders while posing as a child online, does not use the same methods as UK groups, but is similarly worried that any change in the law could give paedophiles greater protection.

‘I don’t live-stream, I don’t post before conviction [on Facebook] and I don’t go to the doors of these people,’ she said.

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‘There are teams that ruin the name of paedophile-hunters by making a mockery of it. Blackmail, assaults, live-streaming of the wrong person – it’s all happened, although rarely.

‘I agree things should be more regulated for those teams that do, but many teams would not attend the perpetrator’s house if the police acted more quickly.’

She added: ‘I really don’t think any laws will change, and if they did, they would see a huge rise in real children being groomed online.’

The Crown Prosecution Service in Scotland is opposing Sutherland’s case.

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It argues that the criminal prosecution of sexual conduct between an adult and a child ‘does not engage’ someone’s rights to privacy.

‘There is no right to respect for such behaviour in a democratic society,’ said Alison de Rollo QC.

The court will deliver its ruling at a later date.

Richard Heath

By Richard Heath
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