Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News
Voyeur secretly filmed girls and women in loo and getting changed
AHIDDEN camera pervert secretly recorded Creamfields revellers “urinating and defecating” and teenage girls getting changed at a theatre where he worked as well as up schoolgirls’ skirts for his “sexual gratification”.
Andrew Smith, 39, of Pickerings Close, Runcorn, was caught after a woman using a pub toilet spotted his hand holding a phone above her and she ran out and kicked in his cubicle door to confront him. Smith fled but was stopped by door staff and then arrested.
Police uncovered a shocking collection of secretly-filmed videos of adults and young girls stored on Smith’s digital devices.
Smith was sentenced at Chester Crown Court, having pleaded guilty to one count of voyeurism in relation to his adult victims, and one count each to possessing and making Category C indecent images of children – the latter two counts relating to the same eight covertly-captured clips of girls backstage at Halton’s flagship culture venue The
Brindley Theatre and upskirt videos of schoolgirls.
Jayne Morris, prosecuting, told how Smith provided a basis of plea in which he admitted “obtaining sexual gratification from secretly filming people, mainly adult females and female children, then saving these images and viewing them”.
She said Smith was arrested after two female customers in the toilets at The Bank Chambers pub, also known as Chambers, in Runcorn looked up at 4am one night in 2018 and spotted a hand holding a mobile phone over the side of the toilet cubicle, while one of them was using the toilet.
She ran out of the stall and “kicked” open the neighbouring cubicle door, where she caught Smith – who was “stood on the toilet seat with his mobile telephone in his hand”.
Smith fled but door staff stopped him and police were called and arrested him.
A search at the scene and his home address resulted in devices including a “mini-camera” in his wallet which he has with him, a Toshiba camera, a laptop, and a Samsung phone being examined.
This revealed 20 video clips of adults being filmed without their knowledge: 16 of which featured men and women “urinating and defecating” in the toilets at Creamfields – where Smith was working and had set up a covert camera; three from The Bank Chambers; and one from The Brindley Theatre.
Officers from Cheshire police also discovered four video clips of teenage girls getting changed backstage at Halton’s flagship culture venue The Brindley Theatre, where he had worked his way up in lighting and production.
He “managed to get a roof box on the side of the stage where he could take these images – that is in relation to the children in various states of undress”, and four upskirt clips of teenage schoolgirls, with Smith divulging that he used a camera hidden in a “duffle bag that was positioned when he was outside the school so he could film” up their skirts.
His younger victims were aged 13 to 16 years.
All of the footage, except the final clip in The Bank Chambers when he was caught in the act, had been recorded covertly via secret cameras and without his victims’ knowledge.
Smith gave “no comment” answers during his two initial interviews with the police but made “full admissions” on February 26 this year.
He pleaded guilty to voyeurism and one count each to possessing and making indecent images of children relating to the same eight videos at the first opportunity.
Andrew McInnes, defending, said his client had shown “genuine remorse”, admitted he had a problem and had sought help via his general practitioner and The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, which is a charity that works to divert men from looking at indecent images of children.
He said: “The pre-sentence report notes the defendant has taken significant steps to deal with what he knows is a significant issue.”
He added Smith had not offended since 2018, and had a “realistic prospect of rehabilitation”.
Mr McInnes urged the judge to consider a suspended sentence, arguing Smith had no previous convictions and “clearly had a good work ethic”, although Miss Morris noted that Smith’s sex offender management officer has been caused “some concern” upon discovered Smith had recently been working at Wetherspoon in Warrington.
She added he “no longer works there”.
Judge Simon Berkson, presiding, refused Smith bail when the court adjourned for lunch until the afternoon, when he jailed Smith for two years in prison, comprising consecutive sentences of eight and 16 months, to be served immediately.
He said Smith was “ashamed of what you have done and show clear remorse” but that “appropriate punishment can only be achieved by a period of immediate imprisonment”.
During his summing-up, Judge Berkson said: “Your arrest led to a search.
“In your house, police discovered computer equipment and other equipment including a digital camera which was to reveal the terrible secret you had been hiding – you enjoyed taking and watching these videos.
“In count one, some were from the Creamfields festival at Daresbury outside Warrington where you had set up a camera in the toilets.
“As well as the invasion of privacy of those using these toilets, you were employed at Creamfields and you were in breach of trust.
“Nobody knew you were filming in these toilets.
“At the end of the festival you took away this equipment and would view whatever you had taken for your own pleasure.
“One you have was from the changing room at The Brindley Theatre in Runcorn where you worked in a technical capacity.
“You had set up a camera – again a gross breach of privacy, a gross breach of trust.”
He added: “You filmed teenage girls dressing and undressing at the theatre I’ve referred to. Their parents would drop them off for a (type of ) competition or the like.
“They assumed they would be safe at a theatre where they would no doubt be sitting in the stalls to watch their children perform.
“You had taken secret video, which you took home for your own pleasure. They weren’t safe, they were being filmed by you so you could watch them at a later date.”
The judge also imposed a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order with Smith to sign the sex offenders register for the same length of time.
A destruction order was made for any devices implicated in the case.
Smith looked to the public gallery as tears formed in his eyes and a frown broke through his attempted reassuring smile to relatives as he was led down to the cells.
Creamfields is a major annual dance music festival that takes place in Daresbury within the Halton borough boundary and attracts sellout attendances of around 70,000 revellers.