A judge has slammed paedophile hunters who went to a target’s house in the early hours to live stream a ‘citizen’s arrest’ on the internet.

Members of the Online Safety Team visited the Lyneham home of Todd Gillespie after he contacted their underage decoys for online sex chat.

But Swindon Crown Court heard the vulnerable 22-year-old lived at the property with his entirely innocent parents and 19-year-old sister.

Recorder Malcolm Ginbey blasted the vigilantes saying “This court completely deprecates the position taken.

“A confrontation in the early hours of the morning, a house occupied by wholly innocent individuals and streamed live on the internet.”

Colin Meeke, prosecuting, said the defendant was not only caught by the Online Safety Team but also by the Totnes Justice Group - which was not present at the visit to Gillespie's house and has never livestreamed an arrest.

He had been in contact with what he believed were girls aged 13 and 14, sending them pictures of his genitals and asking for them to send him similar images.

Gillespie, who claimed to be just 16, asked them about sex and told them to keep their conversations secret.

But rather than contact the police Mr Meeke said they went to his home at 12.40am to perform a ‘so called citizen’s arrest’ which ‘for maximum publicity’ they live streamed.

Gillespie, formerly of Slessor Road, Lyneham, pleaded guilty to attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity.

Alistair Heggarty, defending, said his client had now been evicted from the family home and was living in a hostel. He said he had admitted what he had done and no actual contact took place, or could have taken place, by his offending as they were not actually children.

“There is remorse there on his behalf and a willingness to address the underlying problems,” he said.

Passing sentence the judge said “Three so-called decoys were identified by groups which hold themselves out to be seeking to protect young people from predators online.

“While that may be a laudable and commendable aim, the way in which the confrontation took place in the middle of the night at your family home in the presence of blameless people and the live streaming of it online.”

But he added “You are by no means blameless in this. You were engaging in activity online which was criminal and which can give rise to vulnerable young people meeting predators and engaging in activities which are completely unsuitable.”

He imposed a nine-month jail term suspended for two years and told him to complete a sex offenders’ programme and do 80 hours of unpaid work. Gillespie must also register as a sex offender for 10 years.