A PAEDO vigilante burned down a school and called it a “playground for paedophiles” after becoming “obsessed” with the idea of sexual abuse being protected.
Philip Day, 55, pleaded not guilty to six charges, including setting fire to University of Chester Academy Northwich (UCAN) in Northwich, Cheshire – now Rudheath Senior Academy – on February 25 last year.
He is also accused of stalking a teacher whom he suspected of child sexual abuse – as well as the school’s head Cath Green.
Two further charges relate to a burglary and house fire in Essex, which prosecutors say he became involved in as a paedophile-fighting vigilante.
Opening the case, the Crown Prosecution Service said Day, from Runcorn, had been the subject of three separate investigations, into stalking in Northwich, burglary and arson in Essex, and arson at UCAN.
The jury heard how Day had been investigated for harassment of the two UCAN staff members, carried out over a number of months due to his wrongly-held belief that a sexual offence had occurred.
An official allegation has never been made against the teacher or school, but thorough investigations were carried out and completed by the school, local authority and police.
Day began posting videos to Facebook making “wild accusations” regarding the school being a “playground for paedophiles”, and became involved in the “paedophile-hunting” community.
Through his involvement in paedophile huntin he met Samantha Baldwin and they began an affair, according to prosecution.
Baldwin lost custody of her two children following a high-profile case in 2017, where she falsely accused their father of sexually abusing them.
His belief is not grounded upon any hard facts
Two of the counts relate to Day allegedly travelling down to Essex, where Baldwin’s ex-partner and children were living, and committing burglary and then arson at their empty house around New Year’s Eve 2017.
Two months later, after becoming “angry” when interviewed by police about his conduct relating to UCAN staff, he is alleged to have set fire to the school by creating 18 seats of fire using a jerry can and combustible materials, causing £2.4million of damage.
He was arrested later that day, and the resulting investigation led police to link the cases in Northwich and Essex.
Mr Connor, for the CPS, told the jury: “In a nutshell, Mr Day became obsessed with the idea [of a rape] by a teacher at UCAN.
“There is no doubt that his belief in that is genuinely held, however the prosecution says that his belief is not grounded upon any hard facts.”
Mr Connor added: “One can only imagine the impact the defendant’s behaviour had on the school staff, parents and ironically the schoolchildren, who he claimed to protect.”
Day denies all charges. The trial continues at Chester Crown Court, and is expected to last up to four weeks.