Changing room camera pervert escapes jail term

A PERVERT who secretly filmed a mum getting changed with her five-year-old son in a Sheffield leisure centre has escaped a prison sentence - after a judge said jailing him wouldn't provide any treatment to stop him offending in future.

Neil Smith, aged 57, of Victoria Road, Old Town, Barnsley, spied on his 31-year-old victim with a video camera from a changing cubicle at Hillsborough Leisure Centre.

Sheffield Crown Court heard Smith pointed the camera under the cubicle, moving the lens "to get a better view".

The camera's memory card also contained covert footage of five other women getting changed, taken the same day.

Smith turned to voyeurism after his wife began going through the menopause, the court was told, and claimed his "thinking was blurred" due to taking Kanagra pills, which are similar to Viagra.

Nicola Quinney, prosecuting, said the mum had gone swimming with her son at Hillsborough on August 11 last year and after leaving the pool had gone to get changed.

"She noticed a hand holding a camcorder under the cubicle," she said.

Miss Quinney said the shocked victim immediately covered herself and told her son to do the same thing, before going to Smith's cubicle next door.

"She banged on the door and confronted the defendant, who denied having done anything," she added.

Leisure centre staff recovered a carrier bag belonging to Smith which contained the camera card and a 30cm ruler with a lead attached.

Initially Smith made no comment in police interview, but later admitted voyeurism.

Smith was fined for committing the same offence at the Doncaster Dome in 2004. He looked through a hole in a cubicle wall and watched women getting changed.

Richard Barradell, defending, said Smith's life has "collapsed", and he has also attempted suicide.

Judge Simon Lawler QC said Smith had become "obsessed with voyeuristic activities".

"Your actions were persistent and very upsetting for this lady," he said, adding Smith has no "paedophilic tendencies".

The judge said jail was his "preferred option" but added: "I have to try and prevent re-offending by you and protect the public in the long term."

Smith will serve a three-year community order with a supervision requirement and must attend an accredited sex offender programme.

He will also be subject to a sexual offences prevention order, banning him from communal changing rooms in leisure centres, sports centres or swimming pools anywhere in the UK.

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