Northern Ireland

Portstewart beach video-glasses voyeur given probation

Christopher Hodgen
Image caption Christopher Hodgen tried to take an indecent photograph of a child on a Portstewart beach

A Belfast man convicted of trying to record a young child changing at a County Londonderry beach using video sunglasses has been given probation.

Christopher Hodgen, 65, of Salisbury Court, was convicted at Coleraine Magistrates' Court in November, of attempted voyeurism and attempting to make an indecent photograph.

The court heard a witness had observed Hodgen pointing the glasses in the direction of a three-year-old boy.

The child was naked below the waist.

During a previous court hearing, the witness said Hodgen, who was on a beach in Portstewart, pressed a button on the glasses and a red light came on.

Hodgen was arrested and found to have a receipt for the glasses, which he had purchased the previous day.

Police found the glasses had "video and audio capability".

Hodgen had contested the charges against him but declined to give evidence.

A judge convicted him on both counts.

In court on Thursday, a defence barrister said Hodgen lived an "isolated and solitary lifestyle" and had been "open and honest" with the probation service.

Referring to the findings of a pre-sentence report, the barrister said of Hodgen: "At the time he was feeling stressed and depressed and wanted to relieve some of that."

He added: "There is concern that he may have deliberately offended in this manner to draw attention to himself."

The judge said the threshold for a custodial sentence had been passed.

But he added that such a sentence "would offer no therapeutic value in dealing with the underlying issues that caused this offending".

He imposed a two-year probation order for each offence, to run concurrently, and a five-year sexual offences prevention order.

Hodgen was warned he would go to prison if he breached the probation order.

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