Rector who used phone to film men in toilets avoids jail for voyeurism
A “well-regarded” clergyman who filmed men using a public toilet in a shopping centre has been handed a suspended four-month jail term.
The Very Rev Martin Thrower admitted two counts of voyeurism at an earlier hearing at Norwich Crown Court.
William Carter, prosecuting, said the 56-year-old rector was caught after a 17-year-old heard a noise above him as he sat on the toilet at the Buttermarket shopping centre in Ipswich, Suffolk.
The teenager saw someone’s hand holding a mobile phone that was filming him over the cubicle partition. He grabbed the phone and Thrower was subsequently arrested.
At a sentencing hearing yesterday, Judge Katharine Moore told the defendant he had been “well-regarded” by those he helped, adding he had been a listening ear “in times of great sadness and some in happier times”.
She sentenced Thrower on each count to four months in prison, suspended for 24 months, to run concurrently. The rector was also ordered to complete a 60-day course to address sex offending behaviour and a further 30-day rehabilitation course.
After Thrower was arrested following the incident on August 4 last year, officers found three further videos recorded on the phone that day, including two of men who had not noticed they were being recorded.
Police later discovered, on further examination of the phone, almost 600 similar images.
They also found four similar videos on a computer seized from the defendant’s home.
They also found evidence that Thrower had accessed “professionally made pornography” on the theme of men using a toilet, which “utterly destroyed the defence” that his actions were not sexually motivated, Mr Carter said.
The clergyman, of Church Street, Hadleigh, Suffolk, is rector of Hadleigh, Layham and Shelley. He has been suspended from all roles by the Diocese of St Edmundsbury in Ipswich.
Thrower had denied the charges, but changed his plea after his 17-year-old victim gave evidence.
Stephen Nelson, mitigating, said the defendant was of previous good character and was “deeply remorseful”, adding that the public gallery was full of people supporting him.