A MAN who used a pair of sunglasses with a built-in secret camera to try and video a semi-naked three-year-old boy who was getting changed at the seaside last summer has been ordered to sign the Sex Offender’s Register for five years.
Christopher Hodgen (65), of Salisbury Court in Belfast, was also put on Probation for two years.
In addition, he was made the subject of a five year Sexual Offences Prevention Order which includes a condition banning him from possessing any image/video recording device unless with the prior approval of a designated risk manager.
At Coleraine Magistrates Court on Thursday it was also ordered that the glasses be forfeited and confiscated.
At a previous hearing a judge had praised a vigilant member of the public who spotted Hodgen pressing buttons on the glasses to try to record the boy.
The child was naked from the waist down as he changed at The Crescent area of Portstewart whilst with his mother in July this year.
Hodgen had denied two charges he faced but was convicted at Coleraine Magistrates Court in November and he was back in court on Thursday for sentencing.
The judge told the earlier hearing Hodgen had visited Portstewart having “armed yourself with a recording device”.
The judge added that the design of the glasses and the way in which they were used by Hodgen were “fairly surreptitious”.
The defendant had previously entered not guilty pleas to charges of attempted voyeurism and attempting to take an indecent photo of a child.
The particulars of the attempted voyeurism charge were that he ‘attempted, for the purposes of sexual gratification, to record another person doing a private act knowing that the other person would not consent to being recorded’.
The second charge was that he ‘attempted to take an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child’.
At court in November a prosecution lawyer said all the evidence in the case had been agreed and after reading statements in his chambers, the judge was then shown the glasses used by Hodgen.
The judge told the court he had the opportunity to read the prosecution statements from civilians and police and also Hodgen’s interview from July 27.
A defence barrister told last month’s hearing he had no objections to the witnesses not appearing in court and added that although Hodgen “maintains his innocence” the defendant did not wish to give evidence in court in his defence.
A prosecutor said a witness saw a man – Hodgen – in Portstewart and he had glasses upon which he was pushing buttons with a “red light” activated whilst a three-year-old boy “naked from the waist down” was nearby getting changed.
The court heard the glasses had audio and video capability and had been bought on July 26.
The prosecution lawyer said the defendant “couldn’t have been given more opportunities to give an innocent explanation. He took the decision not to do that”.
The prosecutor said the defendant had also decided not to give an account to the court and added that the case against Hodgen was “compelling”.
He said Hodgen had been “pushing buttons” in relation to a camera in the glasses.
At the earlier hearing the judge said Hodgen had been given opportunities to comment but the reason he didn’t was that he “had no answer” and again in the dock “you had no good explanation for the allegations before the court”.
The judge said: “This is not a weak prosecution case”.
He had added that the outline of the facts in the statements was “compelling”.
Speaking last month the judge told Hodgen: “You decided to travel to Portstewart having armed yourself with a recording device”.
He said the device was “fairly surreptitious” in its design and in the way the defendant used it.
The judge had commended a witness’s “public service” in informing the police which had now resulted in Hodgen being convicted of both charges.