October 2017

Former firefighter jailed after installing spy cam in his lodgers’ bathroom which they thought was a towel hook

A former firefighter has been jailed for installing a camera in his lodgers’ bathroom, which they thought was a towel hook and possession of child abuse images

Landlord David Minister fixed a camera in the bathroom used by three lodgers, two women, one aged 18, and one older, and a schoolgirl, aged 13.

The older woman, whose age is not known, thought it was a hook and tried to hang a towel on it, but was surprised when it moved a week later.

It had initially been on a door at a toilet seat height, but then moved to the top of the wall, where they kept trying to hang towels from it.

Prosecuting, Beryl Hughes said: “In mid-June 2016 the victim noticed there was a hook in the door of the bathroom.

“She thought it was a hook and although a little strange, did nothing about it. Around a week later she noticed that the hook had moved.”

She revealed that the device was moved to a higher point on the opposite side of the room.

“The victim had been using it as a hook but towels kept falling of it and it couldn’t hold any weight,” she added.

However it wasn’t until the 18-year-old victim was washing her hair and looked up at what she thought had been the hook, that Minister’s secret crime came to light.

“It had an on-off switch on it and an SD card inside it,” she continued.

“She placed the card in her phone. It contained images of all three victims using the bathroom and one image of the 18-year-old using the toilet.”

The older victim took the SD card to Milton Keynes police station and reported what she had found and Minister was later arrested before confessing voyeurism to officers.

When the police searched his computer and laptop they found a stash of indecent images of children including 140 category A, the worst level, 163 category B and 236 category C.

There were also two extreme pornographic videos which Ms Hughes described to Aylesbury Crown Court.

Minister admitted one count of voyeurism, two counts of making indecent pictures of a child and one count of possessing indecent pictures of a child and was sent to prison for 12 months.

Although police had unearthed a collection of 539 images, the prosecutor explained that he was only charged in relation to one image in each category, for reasons unknown to the court.

He was sentenced to six months behind bars for both the voyeurism and the indecent images of children, to run consecutively, and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £140.

Sentencing, Judge Catherine Tulk said: “The two matters [of voyeurism and possessing indecent images of children] may be related in the reasoning behind them but they are two very different sorts of offending.”

She added: “Even if you had been charged with the correct number of images my view is that the the charge of voyeurism is far and away more serious.

“All four offences have identifiable victims. Nobody for one second should think that possessing indecent images of children is a victimless offence just because the images are already there to be seen.”

She explained that because Minister had clearly moved the camera in his lodgers’ bathroom, he had showed a certain amount of planning behind his disturbing offending.

“What that shows to me is that is that this wasn’t a moment’s aberration on your part in setting up this concealed camera to record people in the bathroom. What you did was a repeat occurrence.

“You took the decision to install it a second time, in a different position in the hope that you got better pictures.”

Minister was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years and made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for the same length of time.

Minister, of Loughton, Milton Keynes, admitted all four charges at Aylesbury Crown Court on September 18.