St Albans pervert who filmed up women's skirts escapes jail term

PUBLISHED: 19:00 05 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:39 06 May 2010

A PARK STREET man who used a camera hidden in a shopping basket to record up the skirts of unsuspecting females has been given a two-year community order. Gary Hearn, 58, of Branch Road, Park Street, St Albans pleaded guilty previously to committing an ac

A PARK STREET man who used a camera hidden in a shopping basket to record up the skirts of unsuspecting females has been given a two-year community order.

Gary Hearn, 58, of Branch Road, Park Street, St Albans pleaded guilty previously to committing an act outraging public decency after he was arrested at Tesco in Great North Road, Hatfield on Monday, November 24.

Prosecutor Robbie Weber told St Albans Crown Court on Friday how Hearn was caught on the store's CCTV.

Mr Weber said: "He had been seen acting suspiciously by members of staff and closer inspection showed there was a camera pointing out of the shopping basket he was carrying.

"He was seen to walk close behind a group of teenage girls wearing school uniform. He was arrested by police that happened to be present at the time.

"In his basket they found a camera had been disguised with sundry items and was still recording moving images. If fact his arrest was captured on the digital camera."

Police found three clips on the camera of different women lasting three minutes long, said Mr Weber.

The first showed a female of unidentifiable age in a denim skirt being filmed up her skirt.

Mr Weber said: "The other was of a female pushing a trolley with a baby inside. He moved his basket to film up that female's skirt.

"She and the others were unaware what was happening. She was identified and expressed concern for herself and her daughter and what his intention might have been.

"The third was a clip of a young girl in school uniform and images were captured from below up her skirt."

On arrest Hearn replied: "I have been doing it for some years."

Hearn has no previous convictions apart from a matter in 1994 after he was caught in the ladies toilets of Texas Homecare in St Albans using a mirror to watch women go to the toilet.

He was detained by staff after a woman complained about a man in the adjoining cubicle who had put a mirror under the partition as she used the toilet.

Matt Groves, for the defence, said Hearn was involved in an "artistic field" making guitars and was in a stable relationship.

He asked Judge Marie Catterson not to jail his client but adopt the recommendation in the pre-sentence report and impose a community order.

Mr Groves said: "His partner is in the public gallery and is supportive of him. Even though he has this embarrassing and regrettable conviction she stands by him in the court today.

"He is a man who otherwise has had a successful life.A community order would mark the offence. There is an urge to commit these offences that needs to be understood."

Judge Catterson imposed a two-year community order with two years supervision by probation.

A prohibited activity requirement was also imposed banning Hearn taking a camera or other picture recording equipment outside his home and banning him possessing a telescope or binoculars.

Judge Catterson said: "You need to understand this is wholly unacceptable behaviour.

"But you have employment and a steady partner here in court today. This does pass the custody threshold and could be marked by a short sentence of imprisonment, but I am persuaded that the public can be protected by the disposal suggested by probation."

Hearn's digital camera was forfeited. The prosecution were awarded £270 costs.


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