Neill Hunter: Pervert Larne farmer who told boy to wear mum’s underwear when they met says he’s ‘an idiot’ | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

The 55-year-old Rangers FC fanatic thought he was exchanging explicit sex messages with an underage boy but in reality he was conversing with a decoy

Ironically named Neill Hunter walked free from court this week after it emerged, he’d been snared by a group of hunters himself – paedophile hunters.

The 55-year-old Rangers FC fanatic thought he was exchanging explicit sex messages with an underage teenage boy but in reality he was conversing with a decoy from the hunter’s group.

Over the course of a week last April Hunter send sex messages, including the sex acts he’d perform on him when they met.

And when a meeting was arranged at Larne Train Station Hunter told the supposed to teenager to arrive wearing his mum’s underwear.

When we called at his home in Larne this week he confirmed his identity but politely declined to explain what possessed him to commit such a crime.

“I have nothing to say about that, I don’t want to talk about it, it’s over,” he said.

And when pushed about his shocking behaviour he said, “Look mate, I was an idiot, a complete idiot, simple as that”.

Neill Hunter

On Tuesday at Antrim Magistrates’ Court Hunter was sentenced to four months in prison but District Judge Francis Rafferty suspended the sentence for two years.

Sentencing the balding creep and also imposing a five year Sexual Offences Prevention Order, the judge told him he had, “failed to recognise that your actions were child sexual abuse.”

“Let’s be clear, that’s precisely what they are and the fact that you are in a degree of denial about your behaviour gives me concern that a probation order is of little import,” said DJ Rafferty.

At an earlier hearing Hunter, from McCareys Loanen in Larne, entered guilty pleas to attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming, attempting to engage a child in sexual communication and possessing extreme pornography on dates between 23-30 April last year.

A prosecuting lawyer told the court that on 30 April last year, a man from a so-called paedophile hunter group told police how he had been exchanging messages with Hunter over the course of the preceding week.

Posing as a 15-year-old boy called Lee, the decoy told Hunter his age and the defendant told him “that’s fine” and the messages “quickly became sexual” with the defendant sending sexually explicit images, asking to meet the boy and “encouraged him to wear his mother’s underwear” when they met.

Hunter also “detailed the sexual acts he would perform on him” when they met and there was an arrangement for them to meet at Larne train station on 30 April.

At around 8pm that day, Hunter pulled his car into the carpark and was confronted by the decoy who recorded the incident and broadcast it online, but the pervert drove off.

The PPS lawyer said the decoy gave all the materials, footage and his phone to the police but in the meantime, Hunter himself also “made a report to police himself that he was at the train station when he was approached by an unknown male who said that he was making a citizen’s arrest as he was meeting a 15-year-old boy for sex.”

Officers seized his phone as well and when all the devices were examined, the evidence gathered “corroborated the account provided by the witness.”

Hunter’s phone was also found to contain three pornography images of an extreme nature but when he was questioned, he claimed that as a farmer the images had been sent to him “as a joke.”

He also denied having any sexual interest in children and denied that he “didn’t intend anything sexual to take place when he met Lee.”

Lodging a plea in mitigation, defence counsel Neil Moore highlighted that father-of-two Hunter had a clear record whose health difficulties meant he couldn’t work on the family farm and that lead to him going online more and more and resulted in the “wholly bizarre” offences.

In addition to the suspended jail sentence and SOPO, DJ Rafferty also ordered Hunter to sign the police sex offender’s register.

The Sunday World asked the PSNI and the PPS if they kept figures on how many successful prosecutions against child predators had been brought.

The PPS said they didn’t keep such figures while the PSNI told us to make a Freedom of Information Request (FOI).

But in a previous FOI case the PSNI said it would cost too much money in resources providing such a request.

Paedophile hunter groups have faced heavy criticism by the PSNI in the past with senior officers publicly warning them to cease targeting alleged child perverts.

In 2018 after a number of high profile cases where such groups targeted innocent people by mistake a senior cop went public telling the paedo-hunting groups to back off.

Detective Chief Inspector David McBurney from the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch at the time said, “Those involved in this type of vigilante behaviour aren’t in a position to ensure safeguarding issues are addressed and their actions could not only harm innocent people but could also have a detrimental impact on the criminal justice process.

“We would again ask that if these groups are motivated to help safeguard children, they need to bring any information they have about the identity of any person engaged in sexual offences against children to the PSNI immediately.

But in recent years there have been dozens of cases bought before the courts off the back of such amateur investigations.

Harold Burke

Perverts like Harold Burke from Coleraine and ‘Beast of Broughshane’ Peter Clyde were caught in so-called stings by hunter groups using adult decoys posing as children to catch them exchanging filthy, illegal chats and pictures.

Clyde was convicted of attempted sexual communication with a child after the creepy 42-year-old ‘mummy’s boy’ sent seedy messages to what he believed to be a 14-year-old boy called ‘Stevie’ but who was in fact a ‘decoy’.

Burke thought he was having sexually explicit chats with three young teenagers but was communicating with members of a paedophile hunters’ group.

The 63-year-old made legal history by being the first pervert snared by a paedophile hunter gang to have his case sent to the crown court.

Both perverts were successfully prosecuted and placed on the sex offender’s register.

Peter Clyde

In 2021 the Sunday World confronted another child pervert caught by paedophile hunters when we called at the home of Mark Wolfe.

The 33-year-old Strabane man had thought he was meeting a young boy for sex in 2017 but in actual fact the ‘child’ he had been sending explicit sex messages to was in reality an adult working for controversial group Predator Catchers NI.

Wolfe had been exchanging “highly explicit and graphic” texts and photos with a young boy and had set up a meeting.

A judge told Wolfe he should “thank Predator Catchers Northern Ireland” for not being sent straight to jail.

Judge Michael Ranaghan said the manner in which they detained and humiliated Wolfe, while live-streaming the incident, and the fact it had been seen by thousands of people meant he gave him a suspended sentence.

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