A man has been caught for the second time by paedophile hunters while trying to meet a 14-year-old boy for sex.
Paul Southern, who has previously served a jail sentence for a similar offence, has been sent back to prison after he was snared by the Guardians of the North in Sunderland for the second time.
The 40-year-old believed he was speaking to a schoolboy on gay dating app Grindr when the group showed up at his door and made a citizen’s arrest and held him until the police arrived.
In a video, Southern, who recognised the undercover group from the previous time they caught him, attempted to flee the scene close to his home on Hendon Burn Avenue.
He was pulled to the ground and held by one of the group’s members, only known as Joe, who can be heard saying: ‘You’re going to spend a long time in prison this time Paul.’
Joe said after the incident: ‘As soon as he saw us he knew who we are and tried to make a run for it. I managed to catch him and I made a citizen’s arrest.
‘He was struggling so much I had to get him down on the ground. I straddled him and kept him there for about ten minutes until the police arrived. It seemed like a long time.
‘You only go on Grindr for one reason, although the conversation wasn’t in any way explicit. The chat we had with him only lasted for about an hour before he suggested a meeting. It all happened very quickly.
‘Paul asked the “boy” if he’d come round to his house for tea. We were going to contact the police and let them deal with it but he was very persistent and in the end we agreed to meet him ourselves at the end of his road.’
Southern had been banned for life from having any contact with children as a result of an order imposed last year, when he was jailed for 21-months for trying to meet two underage boys for sex after being duped by Guardians of the North on an earlier occasion.
But after his release from jail he was snared by the group again, using the same dating app Grindr, when he chatted with the ‘teen’ last month.
Prosecutor Mark Guiliani told Newcastle Crown Court: ‘The group was able to establish his address, where he was living. They went around because he invited the 14-year-old boy, or the person he thought was a 14-year-old boy, around for tea.’
The court heard instead of a schoolboy turning up at the house for ‘tea’, members of the vigilante group, who pose as children online to expose paedophiles, showed up at the door instead and alerted the police.
Judge Tim Gittins jailed him for another 16 months and said it was ‘likely significant sexual contact would have followed’ if Southern had been able to meet an actual child.
Judge Gittins told him: ‘This is not just a breach of sexual harm prevention order in a minor way but by trying to commit the same sort of offence you tried to commit last year, effectively attempting to sexually groom a boy under 16.’
The judge told Southern there was no problem with him using the site to meet adults.
But he added: ‘It is clear you are ready and willing, if there are underage boys on the site, to contact them with a view to meeting for sexual behaviour to take place between the two of you.’
Southern remains subject to the sexual harm prevention order and must sign the sex offenders register, both on an indefinite basis.
Alec Burns, defending, said Southern ‘was not actively looking for children’ when he went on the site, which is for adults, and added ‘his request was for tea’.
Mr Burns added: ‘Initially, he told the person he should not be on the dating website, that he could get harmed by adults, but then he carried on and asked him to come to his house.’
Mr Burns said Southern has been the subject to abuse by his neighbours due to his past, and leads a “lonely” existence.
The court heard Southern had been so “very drunk” when he asked the boy for tea that he has “absolutely no recollection at all” of it.