Sunbed snooper given a tanning

Paul Smith
Paul Smith

SHAMED Paul Smith pulls his hood over his face as he leaves court after he was snared trying to film naked women in a tanning booth.

The embarrassed financial advisor from Hartlepool tried to capture footage on his mobile phone through a gap in the cubicle next to the one he was using to top up his tan.

But he was nabbed after his victim saw a light from the mobile and then heard him slam the booth door behind him when she realised what was going on.

She immediately raised the alarm with staff at Tanfastic, in Burnhope Way, Peterlee, and police went straight to his door.

His mobile phone eventually gave him away, but he hadn’t managed to capture naked pictures and only got footage of the booth.

In police interview he initially denied that particular offence, but bizarrely admitted taking a picture of another woman the day before.

When he turned up to Peterlee Magistrates’ Court, Smith, 45, who regularly visited the tanning shop during his lunch break from his job with Lloyds TSB, admitted two counts of observing a person doing a private act, without consent, for sexual gratification.

Prosecutor Janet Coxon said the woman had not pulled the cover of the horizontal sunbed over her as she gets too hot.

She added: “She was lying facing the adjacent cubicle and noticed a small light coming from the gap between cubicles.

“She looked at it and realised it was a mobile phone and saw a hand clutched around it. The hand and the phone were in her cubicle pointing towards her.

“She saw the light shining towards her and realised whoever it was in the next cubicle was either taking pictures of her or filming her laying naked on the sunbed.”

Justices heard that the woman froze initially but jumped up, got dressed and heard the door of the next cubicle bang and the person leave.

The woman told staff and asked who had just left that cubicle and was informed it was Paul Smith.

The woman, who contacted police, said in a victim impact statement she now feels too uncomfortable to visit sunbed shops and added: “I’m concerned if this male did take footage of me what his intentions are for.

“This man has infringed on my privacy and I wonder how many other people this has happened to who haven’t realised.”

When he was arrested, Smith, who has never been in trouble before, admitted being in the next cubicle but denied using his phone to record anyone.

He was bailed but the next day he walked into the police station and continued to deny the offence but admitted using his phone to view a woman in the next booth and accidentally touching the camera button and causing it to take a photograph.

Smith, of Goldcrest Close, Hartlepool, who sobbed during yesterday’s court hearing, said he had deleted this image.

His mobile was examined and an image of the top of a sunbed was recovered but no images of females were found.

John Ellwood, mitigating, said the phone was “viewing not recording” and added: “He would like to make it entirely clear that he did not video nor take any photographs of the lady who complained.”

Mr Ellwood said Smith had acted “stupidly in a moment of personal crisis”.

Chairman of the magistrates’ bench David Balls sentenced Smith to a nine-month community order with £85 costs