Peeping Tom left girl swimmer scared to use changing room
- Credit: DC Police
A Peeping Tom left a 15-year-old swimmer terrified of getting changed when he used a mobile phone to film her over the top of a cubicle.
Edward Smith locked himself in a neighbouring cubicle in the mixed gender changing area as a group of swimmers aged ten to 17 were ending a training session.
He waited for the swimmers to get out and then held his hand up to take photos of the naked girl, who screamed in horror when she spotted his phone.
Smith fled the changing room at the Exe Valley Leisure Centre in Tiverton but police released a grainy CCTV image which led to the 40-year-old farmer being identified and arrested.
Analysts then found images on his phone and computer which proved he had done the same thing at the same swimming pool twice before.
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A victim impact statement from the 15-year-old girl said that swimming used to be her ‘happy place’ but she is now so scared that she insists on having friends in both neighbouring cubicles whenever she changes.
Smith, of Orchard Close, Rackenford, near South Molton, admitted taking an indecent image of a child, three counts of voyeurism, and one of harassment.
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He was jailed for 12 months, suspended for two years, and ordered to attend 25 days of rehabilitation activities by Judge Peter Johnson at Exeter Crown Court.
He was made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, put on the sex offenders register for ten years and barred from working with children.
The Judge told him: “You were caught as a result of CCTV being released and a member of the public recognising you and the images of the 15-year-old girl were still on your phone.
“You claimed you could not remember but search terms on your computer confirmed your interest in voyeurism.
“The effect on the girl was substantial. Swimming was her passion but as a result of your actions, she worries every time she gets changed.”
Mr Nigel Wraith, prosecuting, said Smith walked into the changing area at the leisure centre unchallenged at around 9pm on January 8 this year and entered a cubicle.
The girl spotted the phone and screamed ‘what the f***’ as she grabbed a towel. A friend who came to comfort her saw a man fleeing the scene.
Police found two other sets of photos on the phone, dating back to August and October 2019. One, which showed a teenage girl, had been retained. Another with a middle-aged woman had been deleted.
Smith went on to harass his ex-partner, sending a stream of abusive messages in which he called her a selfish bitch and threatened to burn down her home in Ilfracombe.
Miss Hollie Gilbery, defending, said Smith suffered a severe brain injury when he was 19 which has left him with psychological issues.
He is keen to work with the probation service to change his behaviour and has been assessed as a good prospect for rehabilitation.
The Judge imposed a five-year restraining order banning Smith from contacting his ex-partner or visiting her home in Ilfracombe.