NATIONAL NEWS: Paedophile hunters defend methods after TV producer admits child sex offences

Kieran Creavan (centre) is filmed by a member of the Predator Exposure group (left) outside Leeds Crown Court, where he has admitted sex offences after he was confronted by the so-called paedophile hunters when he travelled to the UK to meet what he thought was a 13-year-old girl. Photo credit: Dave Higgens/PA Wire
Kieran Creavan (centre) is filmed by a member of the Predator Exposure group (left) outside Leeds Crown Court, where he has admitted sex offences after he was confronted by the so-called paedophile hunters when he travelled to the UK to meet what he thought was a 13-year-old girl. Photo credit: Dave Higgens/PA Wire
Share this article

A paedophile-hunting group has defended its tactics after a television sports producer who was confronted when he travelled to the UK to meet what he thought was a 13-year-old girl admitted sex offences.

Kieran Creaven flew from Dublin to Leeds to meet a "girl" he had groomed outside the city's Queens Hotel. But the fictional teenager had been created by Leeds-based group Predator Exposure.

Kieran Creavan outside Leeds Crown Court, where he has admitted sex offences after he was confronted by so-called paedophile hunters when he travelled to the UK to meet what he thought was a 13-year-old girl. Photo credit: Dave Higgens/PA Wire

Kieran Creavan outside Leeds Crown Court, where he has admitted sex offences after he was confronted by so-called paedophile hunters when he travelled to the UK to meet what he thought was a 13-year-old girl. Photo credit: Dave Higgens/PA Wire

When the 55-year-old turned up for the meeting, he was confronted by members of the group, who streamed the encounter live on the internet.

On Monday, Creaven, who works for Irish broadcaster RTE, pleaded guilty at Leeds Crown Court to attempting to meet a child following grooming for a sexual purpose and of attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity, namely kissing and cuddling.

He stood in the dock wearing an open-neck white shirt under a black overcoat for the 10-minute hearing.

Creaven, who lives in Dublin, was released on bail and will be sentenced in Leeds on February 12. He spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth, his Irish nationality and to enter his pleas.

Kieran Creavan outside Leeds Crown Court, where he has admitted sex offences after he was confronted by so-called paedophile hunters when he travelled to the UK to meet what he thought was a 13-year-old girl. Photo credit: Dave Higgens/PA Wire

Kieran Creavan outside Leeds Crown Court, where he has admitted sex offences after he was confronted by so-called paedophile hunters when he travelled to the UK to meet what he thought was a 13-year-old girl. Photo credit: Dave Higgens/PA Wire

According to the charges, the offences took place from July 1, when the defendant allegedly first contacted the "girl" online, to November 18, when he arrived at the hotel in the city.

When Creaven appeared before magistrates last month, prosecutors outlined how, in one message, he said he "felt horny" and that he also sent a photograph of an erect penis.

He was confronted by members of Predator Exposure again as he left Leeds Crown Court.

One - calling himself Phil - said he had met Creaven outside the hotel.

He said: "It's a right result. You don't get a better result.

"The evidence we have on him, he knows himself that he's bang to rights."

Phil added: "He obviously was a bit panicky but we told him 'We're not here to harm you, we're here to protect you'.

"Once we've done the sting, we've a duty of care to make sure we protect him at all costs."

Asked if this was job for the police rather than private groups, Phil said: "If this was a job for the police, I'm sorry to say this man would never have been caught.

"People say this is a job for the police. On the 27 we've got, where were the police then?

"The police were nowhere to be seen.

"On these 27 that we've got, thank God it was us and not a real child."

He said: "At least now he's on the radar, he's gone guilty, this'll be on his CV. Even if he got two hours' community service - everybody now knows that he is a paedophile."

Earlier this year, senior police officers warned that vigilante groups could put child abuse investigations at risk.

Detective Superintendent Steven Woollett, of the Kent and Essex serious crime directorate, said in August that offenders might become more evasive as a result of groups' actions.

"My personal view is, as much as they may be well intended, there is the potential to hinder police investigations," he said.

"My message to them would be we are professional law enforcement - leave it to the professionals."

His message was echoed by the National Police Chiefs Council lead for child protection, Chief Constable Simon Bailey, who said police are arresting more than 400 offenders and protecting more than 500 children every month.

He said: "Don't try to take it into your own hands, you could undermine police investigations, creating more risk for the children we all want to protect."