'Gross breach of trust' - man who secretly filmed women in swimming pool changing rooms spared jail
PUBLISHED: 16:27 27 August 2019 | UPDATED: 08:47 28 August 2019
A man secretly filmed women changing at a public swimming pool and set up cameras to record friends and colleagues in bathrooms.
But Steven Bacon was spared jail after admitting four voyeurism offences.
Norwich Crown Court heard he was "a lonely man" who has now "embraced the church" and tackled his addiction to pornography.
Judge Andrew Shaw told the 50-year-old: "This was deeply distressing to these women, and they were your friends."
Bacon admitted filming two women in the changing cubicles at the Riverside swimming pool.
Police found the recordings he had made after a woman discovered his "camera setup" in the bathroom of their twin bedroom at Sprowston Manor in September last year.
Bacon had "encouraged the victim to take a shower and freshen up," prosecutor Martin Ivory said.
"While she was in the bathroom she noticed his bag was open, and could see his phone was there," he added.
"She was worried initially the phone might be damaged because of the damp from the shower, but it became quite clear it was set to record mode and had been filming her."
Mr Ivory said the woman felt "violated, upset and distressed".
"He was someone she trusted implicitly. Their six years of friendship felt like a lie and came crashing down around her," he said.
"She describes him taking away her right to privacy."
The woman went straight to police, who found more recordings and informed Bacon's victims what had happened.
In March 2012 a colleague had offered Bacon a spare room at her home after he had a "temporary setback in life". He lived there six years before she gave him notice to leave.
"He had, in a very similar way, set up a camera in the bathroom to film her," said Mr Ivory.
"She never noticed or realised she had been filmed, but the thought made her sick and paranoid, feeling degraded and ashamed."
Bacon also knew his two victims at Riverside. One he had befriended there, and another was a work colleague.
"It would appear the camera was positioned to be able to film underneath the partition of the cubicles where women were getting changed," Mr Ivory added.
He said the two women felt "stupid and naive" for trusting Bacon.
"[One victim] still looks around when in a changing cubicle and tried to change where the rooms on either side are unoccupied," he said.
The other victim said: "When I found out what he had done to me it made me feel angry, sick and violated.
"I find it harder now to trust people and I haven't been swimming since it happened. I feel very angry and humiliated."
Mr Ivory told the court it was a "gross breach of trust" against friends and colleagues.
Steven Dyble, mitigating for Bacon, said he is capable of being rehabilitated and argued for a suspended sentence "as an act of mercy".
"He abstains now from viewing pornography on the internet and that addiction has now been overcome," he said.
"He has embraced the church which has been a huge support. He has found living arrangements which do not involve him sharing a bathroom, putting temptation out of reach.
"These tentative steps are the green shoots of recovery.
"The defendant is a pretty lonely individual. These are a discreet number of people the defendant, in a distorted way, had feelings for."
Judge Andrew Shaw told Bacon: "People are entitled to be in their own home, public swimming baths or hotel rooms without fear of being recorded.
"I wonder if these relationships were quite superficial, and underneath it all it strikes me you are quite a lonely man, I suspect with low self esteem. Someone who craves and intimate and personal relationship.
"Being caught I am sure has been a wake up call for you."
Bacon, of Airedale Close in Norwich, was given eight months in prison, suspended for two years.
He was also given a sexual harm prevention order with notification requirements for 10 years, 25 rehabilitation days, and ordered to complete the Horizon programme.