June 2017

Pervert sentenced to 14 months in prison

A COACH driver banned from working with children filmed up schoolgirls’ skirts with a hidden camera for two years, a court heard.

Andrew Whatmough, 35, drove for Ludgershall-based Parnhams Coaches, which provided school runs for Wiltshire and Hampshire Councils.

Salisbury Crown Court heard on Friday that Whatmough was banned from working with children by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in 2014, despite having no previous convictions.

No reason for the ban was given in court but Berenice Mulvanny, defending, spoke of “an unpleasant action from 1997”.

Prosecuting, Dawn Hyland said Whatmough was caught when his mother lent his PlayStation to his step-brother, who found “a number of films” on it. He also found more films on a memory stick of Whatmough’s.

Ms Hyland said the camera, hidden near the steps of the coach, had captured “up-skirt films” of girls under 16, “showing their underwear and on occasions their genitals”.

About 20 girls were identified by police using facial recognition software and from their school uniforms. But the court heard that more girls had been filmed but not identified.

Judge Andrew Barnett said the victim impact statements were “very distressing”.

He said: “All say they were horrified to discover what had happened, as getting on the school bus they thought they were quite safe,”

Police seized two phones and uncovered more than 1,500 images of children, 114 of which were of the most serious “category A” variety.

In interview, Whatmough “fully admitted” possessing indecent images and making films between September 2013 and September 2015.

He told police he was “in a dark place and didn’t know how to get out” and that he “didn’t have any sexual interest in young children”.

Admitting 11 counts of outraging public decency by covertly filming someone under the age of 16, two of possessing indecent images and one of engaging in barred activity, Whatmough said he knew it was wrong and apologised.

Sentencing him to a total of 14 months in prison with a 10-year-sexual harm prevention order, Judge Andrew Barnett said: “For two years while you were working as a coach driver you installed a device in your coach which enabled you to film those entering your coach, effectively from the feet upwards and you obtained a number of unpleasant, indecent and disgusting pictures which invaded [the victims’] privacy and abused their trust.

“They, and the larger public, must be truly outraged by your behaviour.”

Judge Barnett added: “I would be failing in my duty to society if I suspended the sentence.”