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DUP MP's aide 'put hidden potpourri camera in toilet', court told

By Paul Higgins

Published 30/06/2015

David McConaghie denies voyeurism
David McConaghie denies voyeurism

A camera was found hidden in a potpourri container in the toilet of an MP's offices, allegedly placed there by his former aide, a court has heard.

David McConaghie (50), a former aide to DUP MP David Simpson, denies voyeurism for the purposes of sexual gratification between August 22 and September 13, 2012.

Giving evidence yesterday, a woman who worked in the Portadown office said Mr McConaghie had suggested some potpourri for the toilet and one Monday morning he arrived with some in a square pot, which was placed in the toilet.

Later, another pot arrived and was also put in the toilet, Craigavon Magistrates Court heard. One was placed in a corner, the other behind the door, but both faced the toilet.

The witness said when she used the toilet she would push the pot back into the corner because she thought it looked a bit tidier. She said she kept noticing the pot being moved out again. It happened for a number of weeks.

At lunchtime on September 12, 2012, she asked her co-worker if she had been moving the pot, but she said she hadn't.

The witness added that they agreed to bring some potpourri back to the office, empty the pots and replace what was in them.

She said they went back to work and brought the pots down to the main office. When they were emptying the pots a device fell out. When she pushed a button a red light was illuminated and both of them were quite shocked.

They refilled the pots and brought them back up to the toilet, passing the defendant's office. He was on the phone and said: "I have to go."

She added that he seemed anxious to get into the bathroom and then he came down to the main office. She then went to her parents' house to put the device in a laptop, but had forgotten her house keys and called back to the office.

When she viewed the device the only thing she saw was it being placed by McConaghie, from Cottage Hill, Dollingstown, in the pot.

The witness told of meeting Mr Simpson and explaining events to him.

She thought that they could maybe just sort it out between themselves, but Mr Simpson said that was not an option as he had a duty of care to his staff.

One Saturday, she continued, she met with Mr Simpson, who said that McConaghie had handed in his resignation.

Asked about the video footage taken of her, she said she felt devastated and it was very embarrassing. She said she was very disappointed because she thought so much of Mr McConaghie.

The public prosecutor asked her if she had been aware of the device or given her consent.

"Absolutely not," she replied.

After seeing just some images on the device, the Upper Bann MP said the PSNI must be called.

In the witness box, he recounted speaking to the first witness about finding the recording device and how he had placed it in a plastic bag, put it in a drawer and locked it.

He added that he asked the witness to meet him again and they played the device on a laptop. For 20 to 30 seconds he saw the images on it before stopping it, saying he needed to hand it over to the PSNI.

Mr Simpson said the accused rang him and they arranged to meet. When they met, Mr McConaghie handed him an envelope which contained his letter of resignation.

Earlier, a public prosecutor said the defence had agreed a number of witness statements and that three discs had also been agreed - two contained video files and the third had 230 images. The prosecutor said one video relates to a private act of a sensitive nature by a female and asked that the judge viewed it privately.

A detective sergeant who examined the device said there were 216,373 images and 15 video files.

The investigating officer viewed 114,301 of the stills and 230 of these were presented in evidentiary format.

After hearing evidence from two witnesses the case was adjourned until July 27.

Belfast Telegraph

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