Man jailed for taking photos up girls’ skirts

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A man who used his camera phone to take photos up young girls’ skirts has received a 20 month jail sentence.

William Gerald Burke, whose address was given on court papers as c/o Maghaberry, pleaded guilty to two charges of committing an act outraging public decency on March 12.

Derry Crown Court heard that police were called after a 16-year-old girl told her mother she belived she had been inappropriately touched while out shopping in Magherafelt.

Police viewed CCTV from the centre and saw 56-year-old Burke approach the girl and lower his mobile phone under her skirt.

He was seen to turn around and check the screen of his phone, before doing the same thing on two more occasions.

The court was told offiers viewed further CCTV footage and viewed Burke approach another young girl, later identified as a 13-year-old, who was waiting at a till.

Burke moved behind her and again lowered his phone under her skirt.

It was revealed the 56-year-old was arrested a couple of weeks later and during interview he intially claimed he had no memory of the incidents and that he was a chronic alcoholic.

However, when he was shown CCTV footage during a further interview Burke accepted it was him using the camera phone to take pictures up the girls’ skirts.

The court heard that the 56-year-old revealed to police “he would have feelings for young females and he can generally control these unless he is under the influence of alcohol”.

It was revealed Burke has a previous conviction for “exactly the same behaviour” which relates to an incident in 2007 at a Derry shopping centre.

Defence counsel Paul Foster said the offence did not “involve any touching” and his client is “embarrased” by his behaviour.

He added Burke is “remorseful for what he has done to the two girls, although it had no significant impact on them”.

Mr Foster said there was “no suggestion” the 56-year-old would take his interest for young girls “to the next level”.

The barrister said Burke accepts taking the photos was a “serious violation” of the young girls.

Judge Stephen Fowler said the 56-year-old had “invaded, in the most gross fashion, the privacy of these young girls”.

He said it was an aggravating factor that Burke had a previous conviction for the same thing and was “acting in furtherance of your self-confessed interest in young girls”.

The judge imposed a sentence of 20 months, ten months of which will spent in custody with a further ten months spent on licence.

He also imposed a sexual offences prevention order for a period of ten years. This order bans Burke from associating with children or going near children’s facilities.

He is also banned from possessing a mobile phone with camera facilities.