2014 BCPC 361

In 2014 BCPC 361, Mr. P, a 49-year-old man, pleaded guilty to voyeurism. He hid a camera in the public washroom of a bookstore, that transmitted the images to his phone. When the first person entered the washroom, he found that the camera was not pointing where he would like so he returned to the bathroom and changed the angle of the camera. A staff person discovered the camera 45 minutes after it was installed. However, prior to the camera being discovered seven adult women used the washroom. Mr. P was arrested. Following his arrest, it was found that he has a predilection for voyeurism pornography and deliberately planned to create his own videos by installing the camera. He also has a history of masturbating in his vehicle where people could observe him and attended a sex offender treatment program. Mr. P tried to blame the internet on his actions, however the court stated:

I specifically do not accept Mr. Payne’s assertions that the Internet caused him to commit these offences. I accept that with pornography being ubiquitously available on the Internet, it certainly had the capacity to fan Mr. Payne’s views on things, but I have no doubt that he was acting in a planned and deliberate fashion when he carried out the necessary steps he took to commit the offence.

I also, based on what I have read in the pre-sentence report and Dr. Morgan’s re-port, accept that at this point in time, Mr. Payne does not yet have a full appreciation or understanding of first, his offending behaviour and second the effect that that offending behaviour had or could have had not only on the seven women who were subjected to being videoed but to the general sense of safety that the community would feel.

It is a particularly socially troubling area when people are advised that there is somebody in the community who is engaging in voyeurism because in our society today, with cameras being practically everywhere, it is not surprising that people take their personal privacy as a very serious matter to protect, and it is a norm in our society that there are certain things that occur that are meant to remain private, and attending a washroom is one of them.[1]

The court further stated:

I have to try to deter Mr. [P] from further criminal behaviour of this nature, and I think there is a component in this type of case to try to deter others from commit-ting similar offences because without some rebuke by the court, there remains the possibility, given the easy availability of cameras in our society, for others to think this behaviour is worthy of committing because even if the offence is committed, the penalty might not be enough to deter others.[2]

The court sentenced Mr. P to a 4-month conditional sentence, including a ban on internet use other than for employment, ordered that he not possess any pornographic materials or go within 5 metres the book store, and a 20-month probation order, including an order not to use the internet other than for employment purposes and purposes permitted by his probation officer. The court also ordered a DNA sample and the forfeiture of the camera and phone seized at the time of the events.

[1] 2014 BCPC 36 at para 31-33.
[2] 2014 BCPC 36 at para 35.


Criminal Offence(s): Voyeurism