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Eight men killed themselves after being exposed by paedophile hunters Jane WhartonWednesday 9 Jan 2019 11:42 am Share this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messenger 4.8k SHARES At least eight men have taken their own lives after being branded paedophiles on social media by vigilante groups, it has emerged. In most cases the men killed themselves within days of being named and shamed. Research by the BBC has uncovered at least eight deaths in the past six years, linked to the exposure brought by ‘paedophile hunters.’ Woman on dad’s suicide after online ‘shaming’ by paedo hunters Play Video Loaded: 0% 0:00Progress: 0% PlayMute Current Time 0:00 / Duration Time 0:51 Fullscreen The vigilante groups claim they are keeping the public safe but police say they can hamper justice while family members are left distraught at the deaths. The Victoria Derbyshire programme spoke to the daughter of one man, who took his life after being exposed via Facebook. Prankster named Billy accidentally got invited to poor Sandra’s 50th A video circulated of him arranging to meet a 15-year-old, who turned out to be someone using a fake profile. The man, Michael Duff, was questioned by police in July 2015 and they took away his computers. The 67-year-old was released on bail and his body was found two days later at his home in Tyne and Wear. Michael Duff took his own life after being snared by ‘paedophile hunters’ (Picture: BBC) His daughter Lesley told the BBC programme both she and her daughter had received rape threats after the video began to circulate. She never got to question him about the allegations and now is left with questions about what the truth is. She said she had to bury her father hundreds of miles away from home, without a proper funeral, for fear of vigilantes turning up. Lesley said ‘paedophile hunters’ needed to be made aware of the consequences of uploading the footage. Ferry captain had to ‘duck’ for cover ‘when laser beam was fired at ship’ She told the programme: ‘My friend said “Look, I don’t really know how to say this to you Lesley, but there’s a video going round on Facebook. It’s your dad.” ‘I just sort of sat in shock. It was on Facebook and I could already see what mutual friends had viewed it, so there was nothing I could do,’ she recalled. ‘I must have been screaming because my daughter was upstairs… she could hear me screaming, and she asked me what was wrong.’ She told her daughter, then also aged 15: ‘Your granddad’s a paedophile.’ After showing the schoolgirl the video – something she now regrets – neither of them ever spoke to Mr Duff again. Lesley told the Victoria Derbyshire programme that her father’s death had left her with many questions (Picture: BBC) Lesley told the show that someone she knew posted a video of his body being removed from his house after his death and tagged her in it. She added: ‘This could have been a one-off thing where he’s done something stupid. Hunt members ‘drag fox out of hole to be chased by pack of hounds’ ‘I know people would say, “well the thought was there”, but the reality is he may not have actually committed any crime at all. ‘We don’t know, because as soon as he [took his own life] the case was closed. ‘I don’t know what was on my dad’s computer, if anything, and I’m never going to know because somebody deemed to put it all over Facebook rather than letting police deal with it.’ The Victoria Derbyshire show also highlighted the case of Robert Pearson, from Honley, West Yorkshire. Robert killed himself after his release from jail The 56-year-old took his own life last year after he was jailed for sending sexually explicit texts to what he thought was a 14-year-old boy. He was exposed online by paedophile hunter Jamie Lee, 29, who has described himself as a ‘child protection enforcer’ performing a public service. Jamie’s confrontation of Robert about the texts was streamed live on Facebook. Who was Robert Burns, where did he live and when is Burns Night? Robert later pleaded guilty to attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and killed himself when released from jail. Jamie told the programme: ‘My goal is for these men to face what [they’ve] done. I was devastated when I found out Robert had killed himself, more so for his family. ‘I’m still telling myself it’s not my fault – I just feel slightly guilty that a man has lost his life because of the way I approached it.’ On some occasions, police do work with so-called paedophile hunters. In 2017, their evidence was used to charge more than 150 suspects. However the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) says such individuals can undermine police investigations with poor evidence. They are also worried about vigilante retaliation and suicides. Paedophile hunter, Jamie Lee, said he was protecting the public but admitted that there was a lack of responsibility in the vigilante community (Picture: BBC) Jamie has said it is right that alleged sex abusers are ‘exposed’ online because ‘if they were living next door to me, I’d want to know.’ However he admits that some vigilantes within the community are irresponsible. ‘There’s a big lack of responsibility in the whole community,’ he told the show. ‘There a lot of [people wanting] 15 minutes of fame and that winds me right up. ‘They’ve took something that was meant to be great and reasonable responsible and it’s not any more – it’s a circus, it’s embarrassing.’ After speaking to Lesley about the death of her father, he has given up the practice. 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