Vigilante who filmed men cottaging is spared jail

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A self-styled ‘protector of morals’ who filmed gay men having sex in a woodland was spared jail yesterday.

Colin Haw, 47, led a group of men who dressed in balaclavas and combat kit to patrol a wood near Sleaford in Lincolnshire.

They would film men meeting and post the footage on a local website, often accompanied with music such as YMCA by the Village People and the nursery rhyme Teddy Bear’s Picnic.

Haw was caught after he confronted a motorcyclist in a lay-by on the A17 in June last year. The rider said he had been going to the toilet and it was none of Haw’s business. Two days later, he found footage of himself on Haw’s website and called the police.

Liz Harte, defending, described Haw’s actions as a ‘misguided enterprise’.

She added: “Mr Haw thought he was doing the right thing. The thinking was that he was a protector of morals and a guardian of children.”

Prosecutor Stephen Hill said: “It’s very clear that the behaviour of this group is homophobic and at times it’s quite aggressive.”

Pat Walsh, chairman of the bench, told Haw: “Your actions were premeditated and quite deliberate in targeting a group of people we would describe as vulnerable. Our thoughts were to send you to custody but we are not going to do that today.”

Haw was sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for a year and a half. He was also ordered to do 200 hours community service work but escaped an anti-social behaviour order requested by Lincolnshire Police.

He was ordered to pay the motorcyclist he had filmed £400 and costs of £120.

Speaking outside court, Haw, a father of two, said: “We didn’t go in there to cause people harm. We reported it on several occasions to the police. We tried to name and shame them but we didn’t have any intention of causing them distress. We didn’t put up any pornographic material.

“In our videos in Boston we have also brought attention to all the rubbish and the drug users who have thrown their syringes on the floor.

“We were not out to cause any trouble. The police wanted it covered up.

“I’ve got nothing against homosexual people but what gives them the authority to do it in public?”