And yet another reason the online hit-list should be offline and used by police only, and extortion / mugshot websites should be taken offline and the people in charge arrested.
By TOM GARDNER
A mother-to-be who masterminded a vicious gang beating of an innocent man after he was falsely accused by a group of vigilante 'paedophile hunters' has been jailed for 16 weeks.
College student Rachel Ashworth, 28, was one of three people who launched a sustained assault on _____, a vulnerable epileptic, after she saw his name on the controversial Predators Watch website.
She and her accomplices invaded his home on a quiet Sunday morning, forcing him back into the property when he answered the door, flooring him and knocking him out.
The victim, 39, was kicked, punched, had his ornaments hurled at him, was smashed over the head with his own trophy and was left bleeding and injured.
He was so terrified and traumatised by his horrific ordeal, he fled his hometown.
After the beating, Ashworth, from Colne, Lancashire, bragged on Facebook that she had 'defo found the right one,' and that his face would be a mess. She said she had enjoyed the violence and added: 'I even jumped on his head myself.'
During the boast she declared: 'Any paedophile deserves hanging.'
Mr _____ was wholly innocent and had never been a sex offender.
But he had wrongly been labelled an 'active predator,' on the website which has been accused of routinely naming innocent people as paedophiles - then demanding money for the names to be removed.
After her arrest, Ashworth was to claim to the police that he was a paedophile and it was 'all over the internet.'
Mr _____, who was kept in hospital a day, suffered a broken rib, for which he had to take strong painkillers for two months afterwards, as well as cuts and bruises in the premeditated assault at his home on June 16.
The court was told he is a completely innocent man and has never been convicted of any sexual offence.
At Burnley Crown Court, first time offender Ashworth - who is now 15 weeks pregnant with her first child admitted - assault causing actual bodily harm and was jailed for 16 months.
Her two accomplices have not been traced after Ashworth refused to name them.
Sentencing, Judge Beverley Lunt said: 'This was vigilantism, wrongly. You identified this entirely innocent man and he’s now seeking help with mental issues, suffers panic attacks, his epilepsy has been made worse and he’s moved out of the area because he was afraid to stay where he was.'
'The Facebook entries were total bravado and disgraceful and demonstrate you showed no remorse whatsoever.'
'You are 15 weeks pregnant, but that cannot be used as a shield to stop an appropriate sentence being imposed.'
Earlier Miss Kimberley Obrusik, prosecuting, told the court the victim was at his home when he heard banging on the door about 9.30am. He opened it and saw Ashworth who he had known for about a month and two unidentified men.
Ashworth shouted: 'You are a paedophile b*****d', and was subjected to further verbal abuse before being punched by one of the men.
He fell backwards and all three began kicking and and punching him while he was on the floor, while continuing to call him a paedophile.
Mr _____ managed to get to his feet, was hit over the head with a trophy and was bleeding from a cut. All the gang then threw ornaments at him and carried on kicking and punching him.
The prosecutor continued: 'He must have become unconscious as the next thing he was aware of was hearing a car speeding away. He called the police and ambulance and was kept in hospital for 24 hours.'
She said: 'He suffers from epilepsy and was vulnerable. Since the assault, there have been significant complications.'
Miss Obrusik told the court: 'The complainant has no antecedents for any sexual offences in any way.'
She said Ashworth found the complainant’s details on a website called 'Predators Watch' where he was detailed as an 'active predator'.
The fraudulent website would put details on and want money for them to be removed.
The prosecutor said Ashworth was arrested after the Facebook message. She said she met the victim about a month before and didn’t trust him from the beginning. She alleged he had threatened to shoot her during the incident and she had thrown an ornament at his head.
In mitigation Kristian Cavanagh, for Ashworth, said she was studying for a diploma in beauty therapy.
The solicitor continued: 'The defendant knows this is a very serious offence. She well understands this offence crosses the custody threshold.'
'She recognises that it was a stupid thing to do, including the entry on Facebook. She took it off within an hour and has since left Facebook.'
The case comes after another a group of self-appointed online 'paedophile hunters' Letzgo Hunting closed down after it was linked to the suicide of a Leicestershire man it had confronted and accused of attempting to groom a child.
The group attracted controversy for its tactic of identifying suspected sex offenders by posing as teenage girls on social networking sites.
Its adult decoys engaged men in conversation and, when they believed they had evidence the men were sexually attracted to children, agreed to meet them in public places while still posing as the teenage girl.
At the meeting, the decoys revealed their real identities.
They filmed the encounters and posted the footage online, before passing their material including transcripts of online exchanges to police.