Two Perth men have been jailed for a series of brutal assaults that involved deliberately luring gay men via a dating app and then bashing them.
The victims were all seriously injured from the assaults to the point where their lives were endangered and they risked permanent injuries, WA District Court Judge Vicki Stewart found.
The ringleader was James Joseph Katchan, 20, who used a fake profile on the gay dating app Grindr to meet the men.
He regarded himself as a vigilante who was targeting pedophiles because he was portraying himself as underage and was offering sex.
However, that claim was rejected by prosecutor Hannah Milligan, who pointed out that Katchan had admitted to a psychologist he also considered attacking drug dealers and was in fact a self-righteous person who wanted to “exert power over others”.
The most vicious of five attacks was the final one in March this year because it involved four offenders, including Cody Parkinson, 19, who was also jailed on Friday.
Parkinson’s image was used to attract the 57-year-old man on Grindr, who then recognised him at a park in Canning Vale where they agreed to meet.
But Katchan and two other men emerged from behind bushes, with the the former saying: “we are a group who guard the area from faggots and pedophiles.”
The victim was set upon and fell to the ground, where he was punched and kicked and his head and body stomped on.
Katchan filmed the attack on his phone, which showed the victim in the foetal position and pleading for them to stop.
He suffered bleeding to the brain and severe bruising and abrasions.
The group stole money from him, his car and house keys, destroyed his mobile phone and threatened to kill him.
The other four attacks occurred over 10 days in January.
The first victim, a 35-year-old, spent a night in hospital with a fractured eye socket, while another 33-year-old victim was bashed with a baseball bat.
Judge Stewart told Katchan “there was absolutely no justification” for his behaviour and she regarded the violent, vigilante attacks as serious.
A psychologists report described Katchan as a troubled, violent person who was a risk to the community and had a sense of righteousness but had dropped out of school early, failed in getting jobs and lacked empathy.
Parkinson, who had also dropped out of school, was described as remorseful for his actions and had been a talented sportsman.
Judge Stewart said they both had to be jailed given the seriousness of their crimes.
Katchen was sent to prison for six years and will be eligible for parole after four and Parkinson was jailed for two years but could be out in one year.