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Ex-DUP aide David McConaghie denies 'toilet cam' voyeurism charge

Secret camera 'in toilet potpourri' at DUP MP David Simpson's Portadown office

Published 29/06/2015

David McConaghie was an aide to DUP MP David Simpson
David McConaghie was an aide to DUP MP David Simpson

A camera was found hidden in potpourri, allegedly placed by a former aide to DUP MP David Simpson in the toilet of his Portadown office, a judge heard has heard.

The trial of 50-year-old David McConaghie, from Cottage Hill, Dollingstown, began on Monday at Craigavon Magistrates Court. McConaghie denies making recordings for his sexual gratification.

A woman who worked in the office, giving evidence, said she had a discussion with another female worker about the unease she felt about the toilet facilities at work.

However the woman said 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. One pot was round and the other square but both had holes in their sides.

The second pot was placed six inches from the corner directly facing the toilet. The other one was behind the door but when the door was closed the pot also faced the toilet.

The witness explained that when she used the toilet she would push the pot back into the corner because she thought this looked a bit tidier. She added however that she kept noticing the pot being moved out again.

At lunch time on September 12, 2012, she asked her co-worker if she had been moving the pot but she said no, adding that she then told her what she had been doing for a number of weeks.

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.

 She explained that they re-filled the pots and brought them back up to the toilet passing the defendant’s office. He was on the phone and then 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 so she called back at the office.

When she viewed the device she saw shots of Mr McConaghie in which she said he appeared to be setting up the camera.

The witness told of meeting with David Simpson and explaining the sequence of events to him.

She thought that they could maybe just talk about this among those in the office but Mr Simpson said that was not an option as he had a duty of care to his staff.

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

Asked about the video footage taken of her she said she felt ‘devastated’ and it was ‘very embarrassing’ and she was very disappointed because she thought so much of David 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 that was found, Upper Bann MP David Simpson said that it needed to be handed over to the PSNI.

In the witness box on Monday he told of speaking to the first witness of finding the recording device and when he went back to the officer he placed it in a plastic bag, put 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 images on it and stopped, saying he needed to hand this over to the PSNI.

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

The MP told of meeting with the PSNI and handing over the device, saying this was something that had ‘come out of the blue’.

A barrister representing McConaghie asked the witness if his client had resigned because he felt he had been harshly accused.

Mr Simpson said he remembered the accused had said something about he wasn’t prepared to work under a cloud or words like that.

He was also asked about having his office ‘swept’ and he said this happened about every two years but he couldn’t remember the last time in was done.

Mr Simpson said there had never been an issue and it was done as a ‘precautionary thing’.

He replied no when asked by the public prosecutor if he could offer any explanation from a security point of view why someone would want to watch someone using the toilet in your office.

Earlier, a public prosecutor said that 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 explained one video relates to a private act of a sensitive nature by a female and asked that the judge viewed it privately in his chambers.

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 on Monday the case was adjourned until July 27 when it will resume.

At hearing.

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