A man jailed in England for a “breathtaking” campaign of approaching thousands of teenage boys for explicit images has been handed a six month sentence for peeping on people in a Co Armagh supermarket toilet and gym showers.
In January 2018, the 26-year-old was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison at Reading Crown Court following a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation.
This uncovered a sustained campaign of the defendant using fake Facebook profiles posing as girls, approaching thousands of boys online in a bid to get them to send him indecent images of themselves.
Patrick McDonald, of Armore Road in Crumlin, appeared for sentencing on three counts of voyeurism at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday, via videolink from Maghaberry.
Prosecution outlined that at 1.30pm on July 17, a male had been showering at David Lloyd Leisure Centre in Newtownards, when he observed the defendant peering over at him from the cubicle next to his.
McDonald soon left the area and the injured party waited before he too exited.
Then on July 19, at 10.30am, at the same facility, another male had also been in the shower and observed shadows in the cubicle next to him but no water running.
He challenged the male in the next cubicle and chased him. The male was able to leave the changing rooms as he had been fully clothed.
After a description was given to staff by the injured party, the male in question was identified as the defendant.
McDonald was later interviewed in relation to these offences and denied the allegations.
Then on November 24, police received a report in relation to an incident which had occurred at Tesco Extra in Craigavon on November 15.
The victim had entered the toilets at the premises and observed the defendant washing his hands, before he himself went into a private cubicle.
Whilst inside, the injured party heard the toilet next to him flush but did not hear McDonald leave.
He looked underneath the cubicle to see if he could detect any shoes or feet but was unable to do so.
The victim then received a Snapchat from a friend. As he opened the app his front camera activated and he could see the defendant looking over the top of the cubicle at him.
He challenged McDonald by saying “hello” and the defendant quickly left the bathrooms before the victim reported the incident to the store manager.
Defence barrister Ben Thompson informed the court that his client had been on licence at the time of the offences, having been handed a four-and-a-half year sentence at Reading Crown Court in 2018.
The barrister stated that this was in relation to “electronic communication with children” and as a result of the offences before the court McDonald’s licence had been revoked.
Mr Thompson said: “Both cases involve him sticking his head over cubicle dividers..it was not sophisticated. They were adult males with no underlying vulnerabilities but this was a breach of their privacy.
“This is a degree educated man..he then joined the Royal Marines. He found that environment stifling during a time when he had very private personal issues.”
District Judge Bernie Kelly stated: “These were three separate incidents on three separate dates, so I don’t know if a concurrent sentence would be appropriate.”
Imposing jail sentences totalling six months, District Judge Kelly said given the nature of the offences and McDonald’s previous convictions, “I therefore have absolutely no difficulty in certifying the offences as so serious there’s only one penalty this court can impose.”
She told McDonald he could “consider himself lucky – I had [initially] thought of a somewhat higher figure.”
In addition to the jail sentence, McDonald was ordered to sign the police sex offenders register for seven years “in the hope of securing your rehabilitation”.
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