The self-appointed leader of a paedophile hunting group who was “abusive and bullying” during the public detention of a ‘suspect’ has been jailed for ten months.

It was a month more than Sam Miller received when he was originally sentenced in June, after a trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

He was also made subject of a court order preventing him from involvement in such paedophile-hunting activity, "indefinitely".

During the incident, the 29-year-old defendant falsely accused the innocent man of being a rapist as he and his fellow vigilantes forced him to the ground, shone a torch into his eyes and publicly berated him for 14 minutes while awaiting the arrival of police.

The Northern Echo: Sam Miller, given ten-month sentence at Newcastle Crown Court and banned from involvement with

The detained man was accused of exchanging sexual messages with a child as he was forcibly held as part of the ‘sting’ operation by members of the Child Online Safety Team (COST).

Their citizen’s arrest, of a man who remains un-convicted, was live-streamed onto the group’s Facebook page, in February 2020.

Read more: Northallerton man fell for police online 'sting' chatting to 'boy', 14

Miller, of Front Street, Witton Gilbert, County Durham, was found guilty of a single count of false imprisonment having been cleared of two similar charges arising from other sting operations, following the trial.

He received a nine-month prison sentence, while a second group member convicted of the same offence, James Moss, 58, of Laburnum Avenue, Blyth, in Northumberland, was given a six-month sentence, suspended for 18 months.

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Judge Julie Clemitson passed sentence on the basis that she was told Miller had ceased to be involved with COST and paedophile-hunting activities.

But, after it emerged he had still been playing a part with COST in recent months, Judge Clemitson ruled that she passed sentenced based on false information and so, following a further hearing, she re-sentenced him yesterday (Monday September 25).

Gordon Carse, for Miller, argued that the error should make no difference to the sentence.

But Judge Clemitson said the fact she believed Miller had ceased activities with COST made her believe there were, “the seeds of rehabilitation”, when in fact, he had not distanced himself from the behaviour which landed him before the court.

She said dressed in a stab vest, an “accoutrement” designed to give a look of authority, she said she accepted that the group members believed the detained man was on his way to meet what he believed to be a girl.

But she said their behaviour during all three incidents before the court at the trial earlier this year, “at best could be described as abusive and bullying”, even though Miller was only convicted in relation to one incident.

She said by live-streaming the “arrest”, it risked enraging other member of the public, while Miller demonstrated, “no regard to the criminal justice system”, indicating that in his view, “you knew best”.

Judge Clemitson said Miller had, “an over-inflated sense of self-importance”.

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She told him: “Even after the trial you continued to involve yourself closely to online groups and you were happy to allow your counsel to put forward assertions that simply weren’t true.”

Judge Clemitson re-sentenced Miller to a ten-month term of imprisonment, less 132 days to account for time spent on electronically-monitored “tag” prior to his trial.

She passed the criminal behaviour order prohibiting Miller from involving himself in the actions of COST or similar groups, either in planning or detention of suspects, “indefinitely”, which effectively means for life.