Innocent father was wrongly jailed and became a local pariah after paedophile stole his ID to groom underage girls online – leading to vigilantes confronting him in front of his elderly mother
- An unnamed South Wales man was wrongly accused of paedophilia last winter
- Stephen Price, 53, used the man’s picture on a dating site he used to groom girls
- A paedophile hunters group visited the innocent man and he was arrested
- The unnamed man has now been cleared while Price was jailed for three years
An innocent father was wrongly jailed over Christmas after his ID was stolen by a paedophile to groom underage girls, a judge heard.
The unnamed man from South Wales was wrongly exposed as a sex offender and spent 36 hours in jail before he was released on bail last Christmas Eve.
Jailed Stephen Price, 53, used a picture of the ‘younger and more attractive man’ on an internet dating site he used to groom underage girls.
Between September 2019 and February, Price thought he was communicating with a schoolgirl called Talia.
He sent her pornography and videos of himself performing sex acts.
Jailed Stephen Price (pictured), 53, used a picture of the ‘younger and more attractive man’ on an internet dating site he used to talk to underage girls
But the father-of-three had been snared by the paedophile hunting group Scorpion Hunters UK, who were posing as the 14-year-old.
A Cardiff Crown Court judge heard members of Scorpion Hunters UK went to the home of the man whose identity was stolen by Price.
He was wrongly exposed as a sex offender for three months on the group’s Facebook page, and spent 36 hours in police custody.
Prosecutor Christopher Rees said: ‘Price had created a fake profile on a dating site for over 18s.
‘He used a profile picture of a South Wales man who I will refer to as Male A.
‘The defendant was in contact with “Talia” on the dating site who was a member of a paedophile hunter group called Scorpion Hunters UK.
‘She told him she was 14 and there was an extensive chat log.
‘He sent her videos where he was performing sex acts and he sent her pornographic videos.
‘They arranged to meet but he did not attend.’
A Cardiff Crown Court judge heard members of Scorpion Hunters UK went to the home of the man whose identity was stolen by Price. Pictured, outside Cardiff Crown Court
Last December four ‘large’ men turned up at Male A’s home to accuse him of being a paedophile in front of his elderly mother.
Mr Rees said: ‘He told them he had no idea what they were talking about.’
The man called the police himself after the visit but he was arrested once officers arrived.
‘Male A spent 36 hours in custody until he was bailed on Christmas Eve,’ Mr Rees added.
‘He wasn’t able to spend Christmas with his son because he was under suspicion.
‘His details were posted online by Scorpion Hunters UK and they were up there for three months.
‘He became a pariah in the local area and he was bombarded with abuse over social media.’
Male A was only cleared of all suspicion when Price got in touch with ‘Talia’ again in February to unwittingly unmask himself.
The court heard how the innocent man’s mental health has suffered as a result of his terrible ordeal.
Price, of Barry, South Wales, admitted six charges of grooming between September 2019 and February.
They included attempting sexual communication with a child, attempting to cause a child to watch sexual activity, attempting to engage in sexual activity with a child and attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity.
Clare Wilks, defending, said: ‘Price used his profile because he was a younger and more attractive man than he was. He wants to apologise to Male A and is extremely regretful.’
Judge Nicola Jones criticised the paedophile hunting group who have trapped dozens of offenders across the UK.
She said: ‘I must emphasise the danger of Scorpion Hunters UK who posted details on social media before there had been a conviction.
‘Just before Christmas, four large men attended an entirely innocent man’s home and accused him of being a paedophile in front of his elderly mother.
‘His details were posted on Facebook and he was kept in police custody for 36 hours.
‘Male A was reviled and abused in his own community.
‘On February 26, the paedophile hunter group realised the enormous mistake they had made and that they had named and shamed a man who was entirely innocent.’
Price was jailed for three years and ordered to register as a sex offender for life.
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