A PAEDOPHILE snared in a Wolf Pack vigilante sting is living in fear of being hounded by a mob when he’s released, a court heard.
Kenneth Long was tracked down by the anti-paedophile group after he sent a vile picture to someone he believed was a 12-year-old boy.
An angry mob shouting “beast” and “Get him out” gathered when two ‘Wolf Pack Hunters’ confronted him at his home in Armadale, West Lothian.
Police, who arrived in large numbers to disperse the crowd, managed to bundle 53-year-old Long into a van and escape the scene just before someone set fire to a car outside his house.
Long and his partner were both “visibly upset and shaking” after the incident, Livingston Sheriff Court heard.
A sheriff branded the public disorder as “deplorable” and warned that decoy social media groups might need to be scrutinised and regulated in future.
Iain Smith, defending, said that the repeat sex offender was worried about his future in the wake of the mob’s reaction.
He said: “Despite the good intentions of the decoy group – effectively vigilantes – a large mob formed at his home, one of them broke into his house and confronted his partner and the mob set fire to a car outside his house.
“He is concerned about what will happen when he’s released into the community, so that is his fear.”
He stressed that Long, 53, was not guilty of any grooming offence but had reluctantly admitted a single charge of sending an indecent image to the decoy for sexual gratification or to cause humiliation, distress or alarm.
He said that although Long thought he was chatting online to a 12-year-old boy on an gay dating site BoysAhoy he had actually been dealing with an adult pretending to be the schoolboy.
He said Long now expressed “terrible shame” about what he had done and claimed his sexual deviancy was “vastly treatable”.
Jailing Long for 18 months Sheriff Peter Hammond told him his name would remain on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.
He added: “Mr Smith has drawn to my attention certain aspects of the way you were confronted with this matter by a certain group
“It’s not for me at this stage in the proceedings to pass comment on whether the use of decoy social media accounts to expose the people with your inclinations is helpful in the administration of justice or a hindrance to it. It is a recent phenomenon and time will tell.
“It may be that it will be a subject that will require scrutiny and regulation in some way in future. I only note in passing that such actions by even well meaning activists can get out of hand and lead to unforeseen consequences and deplorable public disorder as happened when this group came to confront you on your doorstep.”
He told Long he had pled guilty on indictment to a serious charge of a sexual nature relating to a person who he thought was a boy of 12.
“I have noted that earlier this year you intentionally sent to this person who you thought was a boy an image of your naked penis with a view to having that child look at it for the purpose of your sexual gratification.
“The charge is a serious one, as evidenced by the fact that Parliament has provided that there’s a maximum sentence which is available on indictment in the appropriate forum and that sentence can be up to 10 years in imprisonment.
“Your offence is aggravated in this case by your recent previous conviction for a historical sexual offence involving a child. It took place a matter of days after the expiry of a 12-month prison sentence which you served for that earlier offence.
“Indeed, at the time of this offence you were subject to licence in the community and registration provisions and notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.”
The sheriff acknowledged that social workers had offered him a community based disposal with a provision for addressing Long’s offending.
But, given the nature of the charge and Long’s record, he said he had come to the view that the only appropriate disposal was a custodial sentence.
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