Married man pleads guilty to illicitly filming hundreds of women over 13 years in 'most prolific' case

Married man pleads guilty to illicitly filming hundreds of women over 13 years in 'most prolific' case

file photo upskirt
Photo illustration of a person taking an upskirt photo. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

SINGAPORE: Over 13 years, a married man took hundreds of photos and videos of women changing or in other states of undress, using a host of household items with hidden cameras.

These women included his family, friends and fellow church members, including prepubescent minors.

The 35-year-old man pleaded guilty on Monday (Feb 17) to four charges of insulting women's modesty, with another nine charges taken into consideration.

Calling it the "most prolific" case of its kind, the prosecution asked for three years' jail.

The man cannot be named due to gag orders protecting the identities of victims.

The court heard that he took upskirt photos and videos of women relieving themselves in the toilet, showering or changing between January 2003 and April 2016.

He did this on more than 800 occasions in 2011, 2012 and 2013 alone. 

The man had two main methods of recording his victims' actions: He would either film them manually with the camera function of his mobile phone, or leave the cameras hidden in toilets and retrieve them later. 

He saved the images and videos in folders labelled "church", "family" or "cotton on".

If he knew the women, he would add their names as suffixes to his files.

For women he did not know, he added details such as type of clothing or other physical descriptors to the file names, court documents showed.  

WOMEN TARGETED AT HOME, WORK AND CHURCH

Among his collection of hidden-camera devices were spy watches, pens, camera sticks and a clock.

The items, which he bought online or at Sim Lim Square, contained video-recording devices but were disguised as innocuous household items, said the prosecutor.

Court documents listed five locations where the accused targeted victims.

He filmed women changing at several Cotton On clothing outlets, with clips showing them in their underwear.

He also took videos of his friends and family members changing, relieving themselves in the shower in a toilet at his own home. 

Some clips were taken up women's skirts or dresses on public transport.

A camera was also left in a toilet at his church, and captured images of prepubescent minors, the court heard.

On one occasion, the man filmed a bride and her bridesmaids in a hotel room.

CAUGHT BY COLLEAGUE

His years of crimes were exposed when he was discovered by a female colleague in April 2016.

The victim had gone to the toilet to try on a dress that she had just received as a birthday present.

The accused noticed her walking towards the washroom and followed her.

He turned on his phone's recording function and held it up to the window of the women's toilet.

The victim was undressing herself when she noticed a phone pointed at her. She tried to snatch it, but the accused managed to pull his phone away before running off. 

As he fled, the victim looked through the window and recognised her colleague. She told her other colleagues what had happened and lodged a police report the next day.

The accused deleted the footage he had recorded of her, the court heard. 

When interviewed by the police, the accused denied being the person who filmed the victim and said he had not been at the crime scene, but was instead with other colleagues. 

POLICE SPRING SURPRISE RAID

However, investigations unearthed incriminating closed-circuit television footage.

The investigation officer noticed that the accused's Internet browsing history included searches on how to delete documents from his phone.

The officer also noticed that despite the many photo and video editing applications on the accused's phone, there were only a few photographs.

The police executed a surprise raid at the accused's home on Apr 20, 2016 and seized six cameras, five spy watches, two spy pens, three spy camera sticks, one spy clock, several hard drives, four hard disks and an iPhone.

One hard drive was found to contain 821 obscene pictures and 692 obscene videos.

Defence lawyer T M Sinnadurai asked for an adjournment to file written submissions on the sentence.

Responding to the prosecutor's push for three years' jail, the defence counsel said: "We have not seen such a sentence for such an offence before."

The prosecutor said: "This would be a rather unprecedented case, based on available precedents. This is by far the most prolific."

The man will return to court for mitigation and sentencing on Mar 23.

Source: CNA/ll(aj)

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