A wannabe police officer caught trying to groom a man posing as a teenage boy has been targeted by a ‘hate campaign’, a court heard.
Pictures of Kristian Kirk, formerly of Oswaldtwistle, have been placed on posters near his former home with a picture of a noose since he pleaded guilty last month to attempting to arrange or facilitate the commission of a child sex offence.
The Observer previously reported how Kirk engaged in a two-hour conversation online with Stinson Hunter who the court heard he believed to be a 14-year-old boy after meeting through social media application Grindr.
The messages included Kirk referring to Stinson’s fake character as ‘sexy boy’ and asking if he ‘liked lads in white socks’.
Kirk, who has a foundation degree in policing, also wrote that he would ‘massage and kiss’ him, however he was exposed after Stinson posted the conversation and Kirk’s details on Facebook.
Kirk has now been handed a three-year community order with supervision, ordered to attend the sex offender group programme and made subject to police notification requirements for five years. A sexual harm prevention order will be considered on July 2.
He has now moved out of Lancashire.
Burnley Crown Court heard how the 25-year-old has now lost his Spar shop job, been forced to move out of the area and that extra security and arson prevention equipment has been installed at his former home.
Daniel Prowse, defending, said it was ‘an odd offence’, no ‘actual contact was made’ and it was Stinson who ‘instigates the conversation moving to matters of a sexual nature’.
Mr Prowse said Kirk never met him and the effect of his guilty plea has been ‘severe’.
He said: “He has been subject to a hate campaign instigated by a group.
“There have been pictures of him on posters placed around the area that shows a photograph with a noose.
“As a result of that there is a multiple times daily police presence.
“They have had to install extra smoke alarms and the fire brigade have placed a fire back behind the letter box so anything burning posted through doesn’t cause the house to set on fire.”
Judge 'deplores' actions by Stinson Hunter and warns of 'vigilante justice'
A Judge has ‘deplored’ the actions taken by Stinson Hunter after sentencing Kirk to a three year community order.
Burnley Crown Court heard how Kristian Kirk reported himself to police after the self-styled ‘paedophile hunter’ posted their conversation on Facebook along with his name, picture and address.
The court was told how Kirk ‘complained about Stinson’s behaviour’ after receiving threats.
Judge Simon Newell said Stinson’s publication of evidence before a trial or conviction showed the ‘grave dangers’ of private undercover reporting and leads to ‘vigilante justice’.
In his sentencing remarks, he told the court: “There’s no doubt that certain undercover tactics are proper for the authorities to perform when trying to fight against these sorts of offences because nowadays much of this takes place over the internet which is inordinately difficult to police in a conventional way.
“Grave dangers do occur when that role of undercover policing is taken on, not by proper police forces or proper and regulated agencies, but by private individuals.
“One of the manifestations and difficulties that can prevail is that aside from the arrest of the person who’s been engaged in what has proved to be criminal behaviour, if that was done by a regulatory authority they would not then immediately prior to any trial place on Facebook or in any public media the name, identity, location of the person and name them as a paedophile or the like such as to bring about local violence, abuse, threats and harassment.
“There appears no doubt that’s what has happened here.”
Judge Newell said the local and national press ‘adhere rigorously’ to regulations and legal reporting restrictions when allegations are made and before trials or convictions but said: “Mr Hunter clearly doesn’t”. He warned: “The difficulty is that we run our justice system and system of punishments not on the basis of a vigilante society where rough justice prevails, we run it on a basis of proper regulated and administered justice in a fair and reasonable manner.
“There has been an element of punishment because of the activities of Mr Hunter and certainly the publication of such information which has led to those activities as far as I’m concerned is to be deplored.
“It may even border on the illegal.”