December 2020

Pervert Murphy snared by Northern Ireland paedo hunter group is jailed

A pervert who was snared by a paedophile hunter group after he sent explicit images to what he believed was a 15-year-old boy has been jailed for four months.

But Stephen Murphy walked free after being sentenced for attempted child grooming at Lisburn Magistrates Court on Thursday because of time spent on remand since his arrest.

Sentencing the 47-year-old Lisburn man, District Judge Rosie Watters said given the maximum sentence she could impose was six months, she believed child grooming cases should be sent to the Crown Court.

She said that before current legislation came into force, she could send a case to the more powerful Crown Court where the maximum sentence is 10 years but now “this court doesn’t have a choice.”

At an earlier hearing Murphy, with an address at Killaney Avenue, confessed to attempting to sexually groom a child on July 27 this year.

He had also been charged with attempting to sexually communicate with a child but that was left on the books by the prosecution.

The charges arose after Murphy was challenged by a group called Parents Against Paedophiles NI. A video of Murphy being quizzed in his home by group members has been viewed over 200,000 times.

In court on Thursday, a prosecuting lawyer outlined how police were called by the group with one of their members telling the cops how he had posed as a 15-year-old boy exchanging messages with Murphy.

During those exchanges, the court heard, Murphy sent the decoy an image of his penis and made arrangements for what he believed was an underage teenage boy to come to his house for sexual activity.

During police questioning Murphy admitted what he had done and that he had sent indecent images of himself, conceding that he “didn’t know what he was thinking.” He has now split from his partner and child and cannot go back to Lisburn.

Jailing Murphy, District Judge Watters also ordered him to sign the police sex offenders register for seven years and made him the subject of a five-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order.