Pair jailed for vigilante attack on paedophile

Police car. Pitcure: Jon Rigby

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TWO members of a vigilante gang who hunted down a paedophile and attacked him in the street have been jailed.

John Sargeant and Stuart Hunt went looking for Joshua Pryor with at least four others after hearing he had abused young girls.

They punched, kicked and hit the 20-year-old with a pool cue.

Sentencing the pair Judge Ian Pearson said the jail terms should be a warning to others who take the law into their own hands.

And he hit out at Sargeant who himself has a conviction for sexual activity with a child.

The judge said: ‘You justified this offence on the basis of vigilante action against a suspected, or actual, paedophile, in the area.

‘I take the view that only a custodial sentence may be justified for it.

‘Vigilante action of this nature simply must not be tolerated and it calls for a significant deterrent sentence.’

He added: ‘These two were the organisers, it seems to me.

‘This was a vigilante posse, hunting him down on the streets of Portsmouth.’

He told 46-year-old Sargeant: ‘It is gross hypocrisy when you yourself have been a sex offender for very similar offences.’

Pryor, of Coburg Street, Landport, has since been convicted of sexual offences involving four young girls.

He is due to be sentenced for three counts of rape and four of sexual activity with a child.

The pair attacked him in Bramshott Road, Southsea, on March 7, after hearing rumours that he was a paedophile.

He managed to get away suffering only cuts and bruises and ran off.

Sargeant, of Reginald Road, Southsea, who admitted assault causing actual bodily harm, was jailed for 14 months.

Hunt, 47, of Montgomery Road, Southsea, who was found guilty of the same charge after a trial, received 21 months in jail.

Both men were cleared of attempted kidnap after Pryor claimed they had tried to bundle him into the boot of a car.

Barry McElduff, defending Sargeant, said there was a degree of provocation for the attack because of Pryor’s offences against children.

Hunt’s barrister, Adrian Fleming, said he was sorry for the attack.