Co Down teenager who tried to film fiancee’s mother in bath walks free from court
Would-be voyeur got engaged to victim’s daughter day after conviction
A Portaferry teenager who tried to secretly record his fiancee's mother taking a bath has walked free from court with a two-year probation order.
As well as the probation term, 19-year-old Thomas Jason Patrick Edgar was ordered to sign the police sex offenders register for five years.
Imposing the orders at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Mark Hamill told the young man "that's how we will protect other victims like this lady in the bath".
At the end of his contest last month Edgar, from Park Head in the Co Down harbour town, was convicted of a count of attempted voyeurism alleging that "for the purpose of sexual gratification, he attempted to record another person doing a private act knowing that the other person did not consent to being recorded for sexual gratification" on 21 November last year.
Judge Hamill said he could remember what was described as the "mother-in-law in the bath case" but for the public record a prosecuting lawyer described how the woman, who had bravely waived her right anonymity so that Edgar's conniving can be fully described, noticed that he was in the habit of leaving his phone in the bathroom but "thought nothing more than he was untidy".
On 21 November however, she spotted his mobile phone hidden in a slipper when she went to the toilet and noticed it was "glowing" so picked it up believing there was a phone call but it was in fact "on record."
Despite her concerns she left and sought advice from friends," said the lawyer adding that when she returned she told Edgar and her daughter "she was going to take a bath".
With Edgar "becoming agitated," she went to run her bath but as it filled up, "he asked if he could ‘nip in’ to use the toilet” and the lawyer said when the woman went back into the bathroom, "his iPad was against the wall" so suspecting it was also set to record, she confronted Edgar.
He claimed he was "trying to play a joke" and the court heard how the video he had recorded showed him setting up the camera and then leaving the bathroom with it "clearly in situ".
When arrested and interviewed, Edgar claimed he had been trying to excite his then girlfriend as a "practical joke rather than anything more sinister".
Giving evidence on his own behalf during his contest, Edgar repeated that claim, and further claimed that after his phone was spotted, he had asked his girlfriend’s mother to give him a lift into town to buy juice in the hope that her daughter would take the bath instead.
On Thursday however, Judge Hamill said the trial had been "a ludicrous contest from start to finish."
Labelling Edgar's claims as a "fairy story," the judge said his difficulty was that despite repeating his fairytale to probation, they were recommending a period of rehabilitation.
"I don't understand why I should even contemplate probation," said Judge Hamill, "probation is for someone who acknowledges that they have a problem to deal with the problem but he is someone who does even acknowledge that he has a problem."
He also lamented the fact that the Probation Board for Northern Ireland had suggested a nine-month order which would not trigger any obligation for Edgar to sign the sex offenders register, saying such a sentence was "simply inconceivable".
Defence barrister Chris Holmes, who confirmed that Edgar and his victim's daughter were "still together", said despite his fairytale's Edgar had "always accepted that his behaviour was foolish, stupid and wrong."
After Edgar agreed to be put on probation, Judge Hamill made it part of the order that he must comply with any recommended programmes of work and must live in probation approved accommodation.
Speaking outside the court, his victim said while she was "happy enough" with the sentence and the protections which had been put in place, her family had been totally split.
Revealing that her daughter and Edgar got engaged the day after he was convicted of attempted voyeurism, she said his actions "have broke a whole family apart."
She said: "I treated him like a son, took him in and even got him a job as a chef at the Portaferry Hotel but he's thrown all that back in my face.”