So what exactly is the law that I am supposed to have broken? It is this:
Sexual Offences Act 2003
Section 67 – Voyeurism
(3) A person commits an offence if-
(a) he records another person (B) doing a private act,
(b) he does so with the intention that he or a third person will, for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification, look at an image of B doing the act, and
(c) he knows that B does not consent to his recording the act with that intention.
Voyeurism: interpretation – For the purposes of section 67, a person is doing a private act if the person is in a place which, in the circumstances, would reasonably be expected to provide privacy, and-
(a) the person’s genitals, buttocks or breasts are exposed or covered only with underwear,
(b) the person is using a lavatory, or
(c) the person is doing a sexual act that is not of a kind ordinarily done in public.
From reading the wording of law just after I was charged, I had two big issues with what I was being charged with.
The first being that you have only broken the law if you or someone else intended obtaining “sexual gratification” from viewing the video. That was never my intention. Also, there is no legal definition of the term “sexual gratification”. When something as serious as being sent to prison can come from the wording of this law, the law should state exactly what they mean by this! My legal team tell me that this could range from getting a brief “buzz”, something like what you might get from viewing page 3 in The Sun for a second before flipping the page, right through to masturbation and beyond. Although this doesn’t apply to me as I had no sexual motivation in my actions, it worries me greatly that this is not defined. It’s almost like they are making things deliberately vague to trap and convict as many people as possible!
Secondly, “a person is doing a private act if the person is in a place which, in the circumstances, would reasonably be expected to provide privacy”. I’m sure that when the law was being written up, this section was not intended to cover parks and fields? Toilets, bedrooms, changing rooms, etc – YES, but not public places.
I should have been charged with a “Public Order Offence” or “Outraging Public Decency” at best, either of which I might have even pleaded guilty to, but certainly not a sexual offence.
Unlike myself who had to wait a year to go to court before a judge and jury could figure out whether or not I had committed a crime, the people who I filmed clearly did break the law. I am not the only one who did something wrong here, but this fact has been continually ignored by the prosecution against me. Although I can sympathise with perhaps some of the people at the Great North Run, the other event at the Green Festival was a totally different scenario in which the people had no reason to be exposing themselves and peeing where they did, other than the fact that they could not be bothered to use the toilets that were nearby. They peed where they did because they were not that bothered about being seen.
One of the prosecutions arguments was that if these people did not expect privacy, then why would they move from the crowded areas where all the people were to more secluded areas where there were trees and bushes to hide them? Obviously, these people were aware that they should not be doing what they were about to do in public, and so would look for a more secluded area to avoid getting into trouble and to avoid offending people. It was not so they could be seen by nobody; it was so they could be seen by fewer people.
If anybody really had a serious problem with somebody seeing them pee, then they would’ve used a toilet. Simple as that.
This is no different than if you wanted to pee when walking around a city centre. Nobody would simply drop their pants in the street in front of everybody and just start peeing! If you did that you would expect to get arrested by the police and you would offend passers-by. If you really had to go, you would most likely find a quieter back lane where you are less likely to be seen, but you could never expect nobody at all to see you there. If you really expected privacy, you would hold on until you found a toilet.
The people at the Green Festival were all less than 50 metres/yards from a block of toilets, where there were no queues. THIS IS A FACT. Not one of them had to do what they did, where they did it. They were not bothered about being seen by a few people walking by (men and women) and therefore how can these people be seen as “victims” of a crime? And if there is no victim, how can a crime have been committed? The prosecution simply “assumed” that these people did not consent to being seen on their behalf, which was incredibly presumptuous of them. If they were actually at the event, they would’ve been more able see things from my point of view. The only person who actually knows what happened at these events is ME, because I was there!! It’s amazing how much a prosecuting barrister can assume from watching a few minutes of video tape.
I am not for one second suggesting that Voyeurism is a victimless crime, and although nobody is physically hurt, I can understand the psychological damage done to some of the more sensitive people of the world that have discovered that they have been watched in a private place for the purposes of someone’s sexual gratification. I certainly do not disagree with a law being created for that purpose, but I do disagree with it being twisted and perverted so it can be applied to a totally different situation, which is what has happened in my case.
The voyeurism laws were created to enable the convictions of those people who set up cameras in places where we would normally expect privacy; the toilet, shower, bedroom, changing rooms, etc. They should not apply to PUBLIC PLACES, where if you decide to expose yourself there you should expect to be seen by others. It is only a crime if the people being watched (or filmed) did not know or expect to be seen in the place where they were.
The people who were filmed in my situations knew they were being seen by other people. They were all in fairly open public places.
Unfortunately, like most people, I believed that you were innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but as I found to my surprise you are actually guilty until proven innocent. The prosecution didn’t have to prove that I committed a crime; they simply had to infer and imply it. This is absolutely disgraceful. Given the serious impact of a conviction of the crime of this type (which is classed as a sexual offence), it should NOT simply be enough that it is the prosecutions “opinion” that I did what I did for the purposes of sexual gratification. It should have to be PROVEN, with evidence (of which is there is none).
It shocked me to find that you could be found guilty based on opinions only, and not facts and evidence.
As my lawyer said to me this week, “innocent people are convicted every single day in courts across the country”, and although I realised the judicial system was probably far from perfect I did not realise it was this bad.
It’s going to get much worse, as the government and Police go crazy making up new laws to satisfy the demands of the press.
Labour has brought in over 3,000 new laws since they went to power, which is more than one new law for each day that they have been in power!
Most people don’t people realise how bad things are getting. Take, for example, Mr and Mrs Grove from Hampshire who have had a sign hanging outside their house for the past 30 years that reads, “Our dogs are fed on Jehovah’s Witnesses”. This is obviously just a joke, but the Police have now ordered her to take the sign down because it is deemed a “hate crime”! They claimed the sign was “distressing, offensive and inappropriate” and had to come down – despite the fact that even local Jehovah’s Witnesses said it didn’t cause offence.
How about Angie Sayer who was questioned for two hours on suspicion of inciting racial hatred after encouraging visitors to her Somerset pub on St George’s Day to fire arrows at a picture of a dragon which happened to be a Welsh flag?
What about Oxford University student Sam Brown, who spent a night in the cells after jokingly telling a mounted police officer his horse was “gay”, and was later fined £80 for a public order offence?
THE POLICE AND COURTS HAVE GONE MAD, and they’re getting worse.
In my case, the Police and prosecution took a few small details, and some hearsay, and carefully moulded them into a convincing sounding story. The press took all this information and hyped it all up to make it twice as bad as the prosecution did.
Anyway, I cooperated with the Police from day one, and when I was arrested I was offered the services of a Solicitor for free. Given that I didn’t know what crime I had committed, as I was technically filming people committing an offence themselves, I decided to take the Police up on that.
After being stuck in a jail cell at Newcastle Police station for 4 hours, during which time the Police went to my house to take all of my computers, a lawyer showed up and I was given a private interview with him.
After explaining to him what was on the tape, which was about 10 minutes of footage from the Green Festival, 30 seconds from the beach, and around 5 minutes from the Great North Run, my lawyer advised me that I could simply answer “no comment” to each of the Police questions, which I now wish I had done because of the way certain things I said were used against me, but as I felt I had not committed any crime I was open and honest with the Police and told them what had happened.
If any of you reading this ever get arrested, you should seriously consider answering questions from the Police with a “no comment” answer, because if they decide that they are going to charge you with something, then anything you say can be used against you in court. I know we’re all used to hearing that from watching “The Bill” or whatever, but few of us really realise how serious each word that comes out of your mouth can be taken. The way in which you say something can effect its meaning, but when a transcript of your words is used in a courtroom, that meaning can be lost or twisted by the prosecution.
In the 21 minute interview, I was very frank and honest and unfortunately when the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) decided to charge me with three counts of voyeurism, they took some of the things that I said in the interview and if they could get away with it they would give those things a new meaning, or would assume a meaning.
Just to show that I had no criminal intent here, *I* told the Police about the Green Fest and beach. I could’ve denied it, but didn’t.
So after giving my interview, I was unconditionally bailed until the end of November 2005, which was a 10 week waiting period to find out what was going to happen.
Like I briefly mentioned, the Police came to my house on the afternoon of my arrest and searched my house for evidence. They decided to take my two computers and my laptop. I was running an Internet business at the time, so before I had even been charged with anything my punishment had begun, as they had pretty much frozen my business overnight. All my software and files that I needed to run things were gone. They gave me no explanation as to why they had taken them either. It took me months to get back in business properly, but it was never the same as they had too much of my important data.
It would be 10 months before I got my computers back, and I only really got to know why they took them at the trial last week. Apparently, the arresting officer (PC Wainwright) sent the computers to have them analysed to see if I was uploading stuff to the Internet for a profit of some sort. They also had a look around to see whatever else they could find to use against me.
They found nothing.
If I am the pervert that the press has made me out to be, why didn’t the Police find tons of stuff like the images I had filmed? If I have such a fetish for seeing women peeing, as the Judge seems to think, why aren’t there loads of videos of this on my computers?
You can get anything you want online, and I’m sure that I could sit and download videos of women peeing all day long if I wanted to!! Again, the prosecution and the judge seem to have ignored this fact.
So after the first 10 weeks of waiting to see what was going to happen, and thinking that nothing would come of the situation, I returned to the Police station at the end of November 2005, only to find that that Police were making “further inquiries” and that they hadn’t decided what they were going to do yet. I was bailed, again unconditionally, for another 2 months until the end of January 2006.
Four months had now gone by and I was expecting things to come to an end when I had to respond to my bail. About two days before I was due to attend the Police station, I got the call from my lawyer, “They’re going to charge you with 3 counts of Voyeurism”.
To say I was shocked would be an understatement!! I just couldn’t understand it. He told me that count 1 was for filming one woman in particular at the GNR (Great North Run), who I’ll call “Mrs R” from now on, count 2 was for filming in general at the GNR and count 3 for filming in general at the Green Fest.
So this whole ridiculous circus really began to kick into action back in January of 2006, from the point at which I was charged.
At the beginning of February 2006, I began regular meetings with my main lawyer in Wallsend. This has happened every month or so for about 8 months. He would present me with information and allegations against me from the CPS, and I would go over it all and pinpoint all the inaccuracies and lies that they had made up.
Before I went to trial, my defending barrister could force out the lies and inaccuracies from the indictment against me and the evidence they were going to use, but we couldn’t stop the ones that prosecution used during the trial.
The indictment is basically a document that lists all of data and evidence that the CPS was going to use against me. It included the exact charges, the allegations and issues against me, all of the witness statements from the Police and two witnesses (Mrs. R and her husband), and an abridged version of the interview I had with the Police.
It was only when I read this fully that I first began to understand how twisted and nasty the CPS actually is.
I began seeing blatant lies, embellishments and exaggerations littered throughout the indictment, and one by one, my lawyer began listing all these for my defence barrister to check and remove before trial.
One of the biggest ones that stuck out from reading Mrs R’s witness statement was that she said she had her husband standing right next to her as she peed. As stupid as what I did might have been, I wasn’t so stupid that I would film someone with her husband standing next to her! That would’ve been just asking for a kicking, obviously!
So, it was ME that figured out that I hadn’t filmed Mrs R. at all. The tape was checked by my legal team, and I was right.
Just to show how much the prosecution was “winging it” here, this first count against me (filming Mrs R) was literally changed at the very beginning of the trial to fit their purposes. It was changed from “voyeurism” to “attempted voyeurism”. They just kept moving the goalposts until they found something they could try and successfully convict me with. How can I defend myself against a charge that is made against me literally 5 minutes before the trial begins?
Clearly, they did this to justify using the only two witnesses they had against me (Mr and Mrs R), who they had brought up from somewhere down south.
The fact is that I never saw this woman (or her husband) at all at the Great North Run, never mind tried to film her. Even though there was no evidence of that and even though there were massive differences between their witness statements – as she said I was 10 feet away and her husband said I was 30-40 feet away – I was still convicted and found guilty of count 1. It was their word against mine, and that should not be enough, especially when they were lying and exaggerating to justify their presence and actions on the day (as it was Mr R who came after me and assaulted me). Someone suggested recently that Mrs R might have a compensation claim in mind. Who knows?
Mrs R briefly got upset and broke down a couple of times in court when giving evidence against me. Given that she hadn’t been filmed, and I hadn’t even seen her, why was she so upset? Whatever her reasons, her doing that obviously effected the jury and made them sympathetic towards her. It shocked my defence barrister, as well as myself and her doing that greatly damaged our defence.
So, at the trial after hearing from Mr and Mrs R, I was questioned.
Clearly, they realised that their case was getting weak and because they had no actual proof that I did anything for sexual gratification, they started to make stuff up. One of the worst examples of this was when the prosecutor claimed that I “zoomed into some female faeces on the ground”. This was complete rubbish. No such thing had occurred and had either myself or my defending barrister realised that he was going to say this, we could’ve had it proven to be lies from having the tape re-examined.
Because the prosecutor kept this strategy to himself until the end of the trial, there was nothing I could do to prevent him making such claims to the Jury and some of the press have printed this as if it were a “fact”. Why the hell would I zoom into a lump of crap??!! At most my camera would’ve passed over a twig or branch and re-examination of the tape could’ve shown this.
To further show you how incompetent the Police are, I can tell you that I never got to hear my Police interview tape before the trial, even though my defence team had asked for it about half a dozen times over the 8 months prior to the trial. My barrister had to go and hassle them, which he is not normally allowed to do, and he only got to hear it literally the day before the trial. How could we properly prepare for a defence when they withheld information like that?