A man who secretly tried to film a teenager as part of a campaign of voyeurism at toilets in a Belfast shopping centre has avoided prison.
Simone Borgosano (25) was given probation and made subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) for targeting unsuspecting members of the public, including a youth wearing a school uniform.
The Italian national, who came to Northern Ireland to study economics, was detained by security staff at the Victoria Square shopping complex in November 2020.
They had been alerted by a 17-year-old victim who spotted a phone pointed at him from the top of a cubicle as he used urinals in the public toilets.
Borgosano’s mobile was then seized and examined by police, with further images discovered.
Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard one picture depicted a male aged under 18 in a school uniform, while another showed an individual described as being of “slight frame”.
A prosecution lawyer said: “The defendant confirmed that he did not query whether this person was a child.”
During police interviews Borgosano said he used the social networking app Grindr to arrange consensual meetings with other men in public toilets, with the aim of secretly observing each other for sexual gratification.
However, he admitted on more than one occasion taking photos and videos of other males who had not pre-arranged any encounter.
He described the recording activity as a means of escapism.
Despite having child-related images, he categorically denied any sexual attraction to under-18s.
During the investigation police also discovered suspected cannabis joints in his backpack.
Borgosano, with an address at Springfield Road in Belfast, pleaded guilty to possessing, making and attempting to make indecent photographs of a child, voyeurism and possessing Class B drugs.
Defence solicitor Adrian Harvey said his client obtained a degree in economics after moving to Northern Ireland, but currently works for a fast-food company.
The defendant has been unable to return home to Italy due to the criminal proceedings, Mr Harvey added.
District Judge Mark McGarrity described the offences as serious enough to cross the threshold for a custodial sentence.
But with Borgosano assessed as unlikely to re-offend, Mr McGarrity determined that sending him to prison would achieve no rehabilitation.
Instead imposing three years’ probation and a five-year SOPO involving strict conditions and prohibitions, he stressed: “The defendant is to comply with the programme designed to address his sexual offending behaviour.”