By Elise Chamberlain
A self-styled "pervert catcher" has issued a warning to copycats about the dangers involved after he was run over when a recent sting turned "malicious".
The town's most prominent video vigilante Stinson Hunter (Facebook, Facebook) is now recovering following a seven-day stay in hospital after he was knocked down by one man he had arranged to meet while posing as an underage girl.
"Two weeks ago I was run over by one of them, it was a meeting we were trying to do with a man [who was there] for sex," said Hunter.
"That is the most significant danger I have personally experienced. It was a malicious attack – he drove at me and I had to jump on to his car to stop him taking my legs, which is a bit sick."
Hunter, who says he has also previously been attacked with a tyre iron, suffered two broken ankles and head injuries during the incident.
His iPad, which he used to set up meetings, was also smashed during the collision.
Hunter said he felt compelled to speak out in response to the Herald's exclusive story last week concerning a Tamworth man who had been a victim of false accusations. The backlash from him being wrongly branded a pervert in a video sting by another "paedophile hunter" has left him fearing for his life.
The man, known as Jim, had arranged to meet a woman from a chat room who he believed was over 18. But he then received a message, apparently from the girl, saying she was only 15.
Jim was approached by the "paedophile hunter" and captured on video running away – footage which has since been viewed by thousands online.
"If he wasn't told that person's age until the day of the meeting that's wrong and I find that pretty disgusting," said Hunter.
"You cannot go around destroying somebody's life when they haven't done anything, if you are going to do this you have to make sure you have 100 per cent proof and have an idea of how the law works."
- If you have 100% proof, then instead of becoming a vigilante, you should contact the local police!
"It's a shame if he didn't do anything wrong, it's shameful and dangerous doing that and it can jeopardize the work I do with my lads."
Hunter has been setting up stings on his own for the past two years but in recent months has been joined by a team of others.
He claimed copycat hunters are instigating meetings for the "wrong reasons".
"Some of these other guys are just making a mockery of it all for fame or financial means," he said.
"Our group is a well-oiled machine. But these idiots are running around and they're not doing it the right way."
Hunter claims that as well as stating how old they are early on in the conversations when posing as girls, his team waits until the person is taken into custody before posting videos, which feature interviews with them, online and will remove them at the force's request.
He said he now wants to distance himself from other people taking the law into their own hands, claiming he works "in a completely different way".
Staffordshire Police, have urged anyone with information about child sexual abuse to contact them directly. Detective Chief Inspector Mark Hardern, from the force's Protecting Vulnerable People department, said:
"We understand the desire to protect children but any member of the public who has information about child sexual abuse, online or otherwise, should get in contact with the police so we can investigate and bring people to justice."
"Revealing the identity of suspected paedophiles gives the suspect the opportunity to destroy evidence before the police can investigate them. It also leads to people who have been identified going missing or raising concerns for their safety."
"If any member of the public has concerns about online grooming, they should report them to Staffordshire Police on 101, to CEOP at www.ceop.police.uk, or to Crimestoppers. If you think a child is at immediate risk of harm call 999."
One of his sting videos: