to clarify further..
You are correct, Carlton; the stories of paediatricians having their houses burnt down by enraged mobs who didn't know the difference between a paediatrician and a paedophile is an urban myth. But it does have some basis in actual events. Here's the real story....
In August 2000, a female paediatrician consultant called Yvette Cloete was indeed labelled a "paedo" after a campaign by the News of the World to name and shame paedophiles in the community. The incident took place in Newport, Gwent, not in Portsmouth (where there had been anti-paedophile protests after eight-year-old Sarah Payne was murdered) or London.
(My sister-in-law lives just outside Portsmouth and we were staying with her when Sarah Payne was murdered - the mob indeed attacked a flat where a sex offender was supposed to be living, but he'd moved out some months before and the poor guy who was renting the flat at the time got the living daylights beaten out of him and lost an eye. Not that it was the right sex offender anyway, that was Roy Whiting.)
Dr Cloete returned from work at the Royal Gwent Hospital to find "paedo" spray-painted on her front door. Local police believe the graffiti was written by someone who confused her job title with the word paedophile. It was a very distressing incident for Ms Cloete, who as you might expect decided to move home shortly afterwards. But there was no evidence that a mob was involved or of any threats or incidents of physical pressure or violence.
However, at the time on the Paulsgrove estate in Portsmouth, and in other parts of the country, there was mob violence directed towards people and families suspected as paedophiles by mobs whipped up into a bloodlust by right-wing demagogues from the League of St George, although the News of the Screws was held responsible for publishing the names of "suspected" sex offenders. Four families on the estate had to be rehoused by Portsmouth Council because of attacks and intimidation - they had no connection with any sex offences. The Police themselves were attacked by the mob when they tried to break up the rioting!
A group of 15 anti-paedophile vigilantes chased and beat a 29-year-old Asian man in Whitley, Berkshire, in the same week. In Oldham, a 54-year-old grandfather is believed to have died after taking an overdose because he was "literally scared to death". Michael Horgan, 55, was been given police protection after letters branding him a child abuser were sent to 500 houses close to his home in south London, after he was wrongly named in the NoTW. Iain Armstrong, 49, of Bradford, was confronted by residents who thought he was a child abuser named by The News of the World.
This *urban myth* is actually an aggregation of several different, but true, stories. Of itself it is false, but that doesn't mean that similar things didn't, don't, and won't happen.
As to the poor man with the bike, he pleaded guilty and thus denied himself the opportunity for a court to determine whether any offence had actually been committed. His inclusion on the Sex Offenders Register now means that he must notify the Police within 48 hours of being away from his address or face 6 months imprisonment and/or a £5000 fine. It also means that he cannot work with children and must declare his "offence" when he applies for a job, and the Police can come to his home unannounced and question him as to his movements and associations and remove whatever proeprty thay see fit. Should a "Sarah's Law" ever go onto the statute books in the UK, his address would be made public and thus make him highly vulnerable to the type of vigilante attacks described above, as is the case in the US with "Megan's Law" - not really what he deserves, is it? Some vigilante nutjob hero looking to gain kudos with his mates for doing in a sex offender isn't going to be picky about his target and say "oh thats that guy who tried to shag his bicycle, I won't bother with him, he's harmless.."
And we were indeed promised that the Sex Offenders Register would only be for paedophiles and rapists. Small hope that the Govt will keep its word regarding the terror laws, 28/56/90 day detentions and the ID cards then.