Peeping Tom given suspended jail sentence

A SCENE from a well known film may have given a Peeping Tom the idea to secretly film women in the bathroom, a court heard.

Footage of women on the toilet, performing personal hygiene tasks and rubbing body lotion on their breasts was recorded by Christopher Darwen on a pen camera he had secreted in his flat.

Darwen, 29, of Queen Street, Morecambe, appeared for sentence on Wednesday at Lancaster Magistrates Court with a bag packed.

When he arrived and left court, the voyeur managed to dodge photographers waiting to take his picture by going in and out of a side entrance.

Prosecuting, Andrea Fawcett told the court that Darwen had previously pleaded guilty to seven offences of voyeurism and two of installing equipment for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification.

Police had been given a tip-off that there was footage on Darwen’s PC and that he might have taken covert surveillance footage of young ladies in compromising positions.

The young ladies filmed were of a similar age to Darwen and thought he was a friend.

He knew them socially and invited them to his flat.

In his premises there was a camera disguised as a pen put in his toilet on each occasion.

He would press the end of it and start recording.

In police interview he admitted he intended to do it and that his actions were stupid.

It was simply a cheap thrill and he liked doing it because he knew he wasn’t supposed to be doing it. He would sometimes watch more porn afterwards.

He said he was searching on ebay and bought a pen camera. In a “tipsy” moment he used it and got a thrill out of it.

The filming took place between 2008 and 2011 at two different flats where he lived.

The victims were all distressed as they all saw him as a friend and their trust was betrayed.

One victim shown a film physically vomited in front of police officers.

The equipment was seized by police.

Defending, John Batty told the court that his client could not really explain his behaviour.

He said: “There will be public revulsion but he has brought it on himself.

“He has shown genuine remorse and it is out of character for him to behave in such a way.

“The risk of reoffending is extremely low.”

Mr Batty said Darwen had to move home and had to abandon his university course when his father had a heart attack.

He was made redundant last year and can now only work part-time.

John Batty said: “His behaviour is reprehensible for which he will have to be punished.

“However, a number of aggravating features are absent.

“There was no sharing with any third parties, no sexual activities as such were recorded, no placing on a website and no circulating for commercial gain.”

Mr Batty said the filming “replicates a scene in a well known film” – believed to be a reference to American Pie – adding that this may have given him the idea.

Chairman of the bench, Mrs Astle, said: “This was a violation of privacy of seven women who trusted you.”

Darwen was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison, suspended for two years and was given a two year supervision order.

An order was made for the forfeiture and destruction of the equipment which was held by police.

Darwen was also ordered to pay court costs of £85 and will be on the sex offenders register for seven years.