Yalgoo man fined for hidden video shots with no ‘sinister intention’

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Geraldton Courthouse.
Camera IconGeraldton Courthouse. Credit: Anita Kirkbright / The Geraldton Guardian

A Yalgoo man who hid a video recording device in the bathroom of a relative’s home has insisted he did it only to catch his nephew who he suspected was “sniffing petrol”.

Craig Maxwell Simpson was arrested by police on January 24 last year after a family member discovered a silver iPod while cleaning the bathroom.

He had been in there 40 minutes prior and set the device up to record video. Simpson was charged with using an optical surveillance device to record a private activity, although no one was observed on the recording.

The 48-year-old reappeared in Geraldton Magistrate’s Court on Monday where he changed his plea to guilty after his lawyer said they had exhausted defence options.

Prosecutor Acting Sergeant Paul White said the house was occupied by family members of Simpson, including his grandmother, mother, cousin and sister and her children.

Defence lawyer Karen Ward told the court Simpson had been ostracised by the Yalgoo community after he was charged because people assumed he had a “perverted intention”.

“The inference that’s been drawn is he was trying to record someone in the shower,” she said.

“He insists this wasn’t the case. He was concerned they were letting his nephew run wild, but he wanted proof before he confronted them about it.”

She said at the time he suspected the 12-year-old boy had been sniffing petrol and had noticed a strong smell coming from the bathroom that day.

“He’s living in Geraldton now,” she said. “He’s suffered heavy abuse over the last year from -people in his community from what’s been inferred in those actions.”

Acting Sgt White said police did not dispute these submissions to the court.

In sentencing Simpson, Magistrate Chris Miocevich said he accepted the reasons given for the recording saying it was “probably coming from a good place”.

“But you can’t do that,” he said. “It’s still an offence. If someone put that in your bathroom, you’d feel violated.”

“When I heard these facts, I assumed there was a sinister sexual connection to it. But I accept there is nothing to indicate this was the case.”

Simpson was fined $500 and ordered to pay $225.90 court costs.

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