'Paedophile hunters' trap nightclub bouncer who pretended to be police officer
PUBLISHED: 06:30 08 April 2016 | UPDATED: 10:00 13 November 2018
Two ‘paedophile hunters’ helped jail a 36-year-old Exmouth nightclub doorman - who travelled hundreds of miles in a bid to meet an underage girl for sex.
Daniel Morris, 36, of Barn Lane, Budleigh Salterton, was outed by two-man team Dark Justice, an online operation which poses as schoolgirls and chats to grown men, then films them when they turn up to meet the ‘girl’ for sex.
Former Exmouth Community College student Morris was jailed for two years at Newcastle Crown Court at the end of March, after he was found guilty of attempting to meet a child under the age of 16, after sexually grooming her.
He was also ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.
The anonymous Dark Justice operation gave evidence in court against Morris.
It was the first time the pair had been called to the witness box.
The online outfit handed over to police a file of ‘chat logs’ of highly explicit sexual photographs and messages sent to the ‘girl’ by Morris, plus video footage of his attempt to meet up in Newcastle last September - when he was confronted by Dark Justice.
In the information handed over to police by the online operation, Morris told the girl he was a ‘firearms sergeant’.
Photographs he sent showed him wearing a police uniform - it was later revealed he was a ‘police impersonator’.
He also sent lewd photographs of sex acts.
Morris denied any wrongdoing and Dark Justice was called to give evidence against him.
Morris, a former nightclub doorman, told the jury he had been set up and claimed he was not in possession of the phone which sent the explicit messages to the schoolgirl.
His legal team accused Dark Justice of manipulating the online conversations to entrap Morris. But the jury found Morris guilty of sexually grooming an underage girl.
Evidence compiled by Dark Justice has resulted in a total of 19 potential sex offenders being hauled through the courts - many are serving prison sentences.
The true identities of the ‘paedophile hunters’ have never been revealed publicly.
Speaking after the trial, Dark Justice said: “We were both nervous, but we knew that was what we had to do to get justice.
“We were scared, but determined because we knew we were telling the truth.
“We were repeatedly accused of manipulating conversations, even doctoring phone records and chat logs, but we say it is completely untrue and it was rightly rejected.
“His legal team was saying we were liars, but even the judge said our track record spoke for itself with regard to following rules of evidence.
“We have no reason to manipulate evidence against anyone. We present to the police the entirety of the information we have gathered, completely untouched.
“We do not try to entrap anyone; these men walk into these situations themselves, completely freely.
“We are not liars and it was a daunting experience being accused as such, but we are pleased the court saw the truth.”