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Alleged Coalisland paedophile hunter appears in court

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

AN alleged paedophile hunter from Coalisland has appeared in court accused of unlawfully imprisoning a Commonwealth Games boxing competitor.
Forty-two-year-old Darren O'Neill of Ardmore Road, Coalisland, who was making his first appearance in Newry Magistrate's Court, was charged with falsely imprisoning Conor Wallace, unlawfully causing Mr Wallace from competing in the Commonwealth Games, unlawfully assaulting Mr Wallace and attempting to unlawfully cause Darren Willingham from leaving his residence.
The first three charges involving Mr Wallace are alleged to have happened on January 14, while the fourth charge allegedly took place on June 6.
It was reported in January that Mr Wallace had been targeted by a paedophile hunting group and said he was lured to the Canal Court, Newry by a man called Darren O'Neill when he was confronted by a group of people, who broadcast the incident live on social media.
The video was viewed thousands of times and resulted in Mr Wallace being withdrawn from the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games team in March.
Only hours after the incident outside the Canal Court, Mr Wallace put his own video on social media in response and said he had not been arrested. He continues to deny any wrongdoing.
“To whom it may concern, you may be aware of the videos circulating on Facebook of me being confronted by a group of men and women at the Canal Court Hotel in Newry after being lured there this morning by a man, who contacted me on Snapchat, called Darren O'Neill," he said in his video.
“After I arranged to meet him I arrived at the Canal Court to be met by a group of vigilante-style people who made all kinds of accusations against me.
“I would like to make it public that I have not been arrested nor charged with anything. The PSNI took me for my own safety after a member of the public rang the PSNI after he witnessed me being cornered by men wearing knuckledusters, etc.
“I would appreciate all of your help and support on this matter. This is all I can say as my legal team is now dealing with this matter. Thank you very much for your help and support."
Meanwhile, the PSNI confirmed to the Courier's sister newspaper, The Newry Democrat, that Mr Wallace is still under investigation and would not be commenting further.
At last Wednesday's Newry court sitting, O'Neill, who is in receipt of benefits, was released on his own bail of 250.
As part of his bail conditions he was told that he must desist from any activity associated with paedophile hunting groups to include having no role whatsoever in the confrontation of those suspected of online sexual offences; he is to have no contact with any persons associated with any paedophile hunting groups; he is to have no contact with any persons with whom he has previously confronted about sexual offending; he is not to use any online social media platforms or any online dating apps or websites or to instruct another to use on their behalf in relation to any activity relating to paedophile hunting and he is not to be in possession of a mobile device with capabilities beyond simple voice and text in a public place. O'Neill must reappear before Newry Magistrate's Court on August 15.

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