February 2018

Man jailed for taking upskirt photos using spy pen in McDonald’s

A MAN has been jailed after using a secret camera to take pictures up women’s skirts in McDonald’s.

Matthew Lewis, 41, from Brighton, sat next to his victim before starting a conversation with her, using it as a ruse to secretly take pictures of her under the table using a spy pen.

But he was caught out when a customer sitting behind him spotted the images appearing on his phone.

At a sentencing hearing at Hove Crown Court, Judge Paul Tain described his actions as “an assault on the freedom and independence” of his victim, a woman in her thirties.

The court heard Lewis had struck up a conversation with the unwitting woman and showed her holiday photos, before taking pictures of her in the McDonald’s in Western Road, Brighton, on July 21 last year.

Richard Milne, prosecuting, told the court: “The victim was meeting her friend in the restaurant when the defendant started a conversation with the woman and showing her pictures of his mother.

“The defendant then sat back in a chair and appeared to be playing on his mobile with a stylus.

Behind him a woman observed what he was doing, taking photos under the table up her skirt and her thighs.”

The member of the public then alerted Lewis’s victim and a row developed after she snatched the phone where she found images of her skirt and the top of her leg.

She tried to delete the photos then took a picture of Lewis himself and posted it on Facebook.

Police then attended his home and found the images on his phone. He denied the offence in interview.

Lewis, of Harrington Place, Brighton, pleaded not guilty to outraging the public decency.

Lewis had three previous convictions for 23 offences relating to the same offence and possession of indecent photographs of children.

But Judge Tain said a custodial sentence needed to be imposed and jailed him for seven months.

He said: “This is an assault on the freedom and independence of another individual.

“People are entitled to go about their business and if they are female they should be able to take it as a given that nobody will take intimate photos of them in any circumstances whatsoever.

“Just as they would just expect to go about their business with no one punching them, pushing them over or attacking them in any way.

“There is a direct relationship between what you did and other acts of violence.

“In English law the concept of assault does not only involve violence but the threat of violence. In this case it is akin to an assault.

“Quite clearly it was profoundly distressing for the victim and other people there that day in McDonald’s.”

Judge Tain also criticised the Crown Prosecution Service for uploading the photos to the digital case system, which allows the counsel to share case files with the judge.

He added: “It was a bit odd and questionable. Those photos were entirely unnecessary.”