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Suspended sentence for vigilante Ipswich paedophile hunter

PUBLISHED: 15:27 29 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:27 29 August 2018

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANT

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANT

A vigilante paedophile hunter who tried to blackmail a man after arranging to meet him after posing online as a 14-year-old girl has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Posing as a schoolgirl called “Lily”, Mateusz Rugala communicated with the man for several weeks before the “honey trap” meeting at Ipswich station in February last year, Ipswich Crown Court was told.

At an earlier hearing, which was adjourned until today for medical reports, Phillip Farr, prosecuting said that Rugala had taken a friend as “backup” and had filmed the meeting with the man.

He said that after confronting the man who was expecting to meet “Lily”, the conversation had turned to him being asked how he proposed to “recompense” for what he had done.

The man had taken £25 from his wallet and was told by Rugala: “You think £25 will pay for this. Are you serious?” said Mr Farr.

It was then suggested the man should go to a cashpoint to get more money.

Rugala and his friend were both physically intimidating towards the man and placed themselves by his car preventing him from shutting the door and threatened to call the police, said Mr Farr.

Two civilian employees of Suffolk police saw what was happening and intervened and took the details of all three men and called the police.

Rugala provided officers with the footage he had recorded of the incident including the references to money and he was subsequently charged with blackmail.

He told officers he had told his friend on the morning of the meeting what he was doing and he had agreed to come along as backup.

The court heard that no action was taken against the unnamed man who was confronted by Rugala at the station.

Rugala, 22, of Wiilloughby Road, Ipswich, admitted blackmail and was today given a 13 month prison sentence suspended for 24 months, a 15 day rehabilitation requirement and ordered to attend a Thinking Skills programme. He was also given a three month electronically monitored curfew between the hours of 8pm and 6am and fined £250.

Hugh Vass, for Rugala, said the subject of money wasn’t brought up by his client and he said the offence of blackmail wasn’t premeditated.

He said his client needed to grow up and he urged the court not to pass an immediate prison sentence.

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