RIOT police had to hold back an angry mob as they tried to confront a suspected pervert on their residential West Lothian street.
Videos shared on social media show demonstrators chanting as the man cowers in his home with while a car is torched close-by in Mayfield Drive, Armadale.
A vigilante group of paedophile hunters called the Wolf Pack are understood to have filmed the stand-off on Tuesday evening after launching an online sting to snare the suspect.
“My kids stay just streets from there and I dread to think they’ve played down that road,” said a 34-year-old father-of-two.
Up to 30 police officers, some in helmets and protective gear, were seen linking arms to prevent hundreds of protesters from getting to the house.
Two terrified children, aged eight and nine, are also believed to have been in the house at the time.
“I think if there hadn’t been such a large police presence then I think it could’ve been a different story altogether,” said the witness.
“It could’ve kicked off. If there hadn’t been police there I think people would’ve taken matters into their own hands.
“Although he’s been charged, he can count himself lucky police were there to help him.”
Wolf Pack Hunters UK style themselves as a “community response” to what they call an “epidemic” of child grooming.
Attempts to contact the group yesterday were unsuccessful but the Evening News understands Tuesday’s events followed one of their online stings.
This sees members pose as children in online chatrooms in a bid to snare paedophiles before arranging a meeting and confronting them to make a citizen’s arrest.
Repeated attempts to arrange a public meeting with the Mayfield Drive suspect are believed to have failed after exchanging messages online.
The group are then thought to have handed their dossier to police who arrested the suspect on Tuesday.
A Police Scotland spokeswoman confirmed officers were called to Mayfield Drive at around 7.25pm.
“Local and specialist officers attended where a demonstration was found to be taking place,” she added.
A 52-year-old man was arrested and charged in connection with indecent communications and is scheduled to appear at Livingston Sheriff Court today.
Two demonstrators were issued with a fixed penalty ticket in connection with a breach of the peace and a 36-year-old man was arrested and charged with wilful fire-raising over the car.
He was expected to appear at Livingston Sheriff Court yesterday.
Uniformed officers were still guarding the house yesterday while it was waiting to be boarded up.
“We recognise the right to peaceful protest and will ensure lawful protests are policed appropriately,” added the police spokeswoman.
Our priority is to keep people safe and prevent them putting themselves or others in danger. Officers will be carrying out further inquiries and high visibility patrols in the area today.”
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