Hertfordshire police rebuff claim that Stinson Hunter played part in Stevenage paedophile’s sentencing

Steven Stapleton has bee jailed for attempting to groom two girls and having unlawful sexual interco

Steven Stapleton has bee jailed for attempting to groom two girls and having unlawful sexual intercourse with another. - Credit: Archant

Herts police have rebuffed claims that the work of a online vigilante contributed to the sentencing of a Stevenage paedophile.

Stinson Hunter, who has appeared on his own Channel 4 documentary The Paedophile Hunter, has told the Comet that one of Steven Stapleton’s victims came forward after seeing a video exposing the 31-year-old posted online.

That claim has been disputed by Hertfordshire Constabulary – which has overseen an investigation into Stapleton which culminated in a five-year prison sentence on Friday, with a further four years on licence.

Stapleton, formerly of Stevenage, admitted trying to groom two girls through online chat rooms and unlawfully having sexual intercourse with another.

Mr Hunter, who alongside his associates poses as children on social networking sites to draw out men who they assert have paedophilic predilections, said: “The victim only had the courage to come forward when she saw the video online and then she went to the police. My friend who lived in Chester was talking to Steve on a chat room. He pretended to be a 13-year-old girl called Marie and they only spoke for four days before they arranged to meet up in August 2013.

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“When he was there we confronted him and he begged us not to go to the police but we can’t let people get away with this sort of thing. He was into underage girls and is what you would describe as a man with a very serious problem.

“When I heard about his conviction I got really emotional. I was just so relieved that this scumbag is behind bars.”

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A police spokesman said: “The police service needs people to share information if they suspect a crime has taken place but cannot condone the actions of people who try and lay traps for ‘suspects’ without taking account of the impact of those actions or notifying the proper authorities.

“In this case when Steven Stapleton was identified it appears no immediate efforts were made to inform the police in Hertfordshire of this initial encounter.

“The follow-up investigation which resulted in the sentencing of Stapleton last Friday came as a direct result of evidence obtained by the Hertfordshire Constabulary. Given that the evidence obtained did not involve a contribution from Mr Hunter therefore he had no right to be informed about the case and it would have been inappropriate to do so.”

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