Operator ‘used the police’s CCTV to ogle young woman in thong’
A CCTV operator used a PSNI camera to spy on a young woman in her apartment for his sexual gratification, a court has heard.
Instead of keeping an eye on a sectarian flashpoint and criminal activity, Ciaran McCleave trained the police camera into the woman's living room, Belfast Crown Court was told.
On one occasion the woman was viewed walking around her living room in just a black thong after coming out of the shower, the court was told.
McCleave, from Collinward Gardens in Newtownabbey, is facing eight charges linked to a period spanning from October 20, 2012 to 20 November, 2012 — one count of misconduct in a public office, one of voyeurium, and six of attempted voyeurism. McCleave (50) denies all charges.
The woman, now in her mid-20s, told the jury that after being made aware of the alleged offences, she barely left the house and is still receiving counselling.
The occupant, who has since moved out of her flat, said she was contacted by police about the alleged offences last January. When she was informed of the allegations and shown images taken from CCTV footage from her flat, the woman said was very upset. She told the jury: “Since that day, I just constantly kept my blinds and curtains closes and I didn't leave the house unless I had to go to work.”
According to the Crown, McCleave directed a camera — normally set to view a junction on the Whitewell Road and Shore Road in north Belfast — into the woman's first floor apartment for a total of 79 minutes over a 26-day period.
McCleave — who at the time was a civilian CCTV operator employed by Resource — was one of a number of staff who sat in a pod in front of a bank of 48 cameras at Antrim Road PSNI station monitoring north Belfast and the city centre.
Prosecuting counsel Tessa Kitson said that on November 12, 2012, a colleague of McCleave's returned to pod one after being at the gym, and dialled up camera 17.
Ms Kitson said the colleague “turned to glance at the camera” and immediately noticed that instead of being pointed at the normal interface area, it was “directed in a window of a private dwelling somewhere within the scope of camera 17”. The colleague discovered that the camera was being operated and monitored from pod three, where McCleave was sitting, and the same image was displayed on that pod.
The colleague told the jury he was “shocked” by what he saw, adding: “I haven't seen anything in my time where something has been so intrusive.”
The matter was reported to the police and an investigation was launched to see what McCleave had been viewing. Ms Kitson said it is the Crown's case that he viewed the woman's flat “for a period of almost 79 minutes over a 26-day period”.
The jury heard one of the counts of attempted voyeurism against McCleave was on November 14, 2012 — which the Crown says was two days after he “struck lucky” by seeing her in a state of undress after coming out of the shower. Ms Kitson said McCleave was training the camera into the woman's flat and invading her private space “for one reason and one reason only... for his own sexual gratification”