Welwyn gardener caught with his camera up employer's skirt

PUBLISHED: 09:46 24 March 2014 | UPDATED: 09:46 24 March 2014

Scales of Justice.

Scales of Justice.

Archant

A gardener from Welwyn, caught taking lustful photos of his employer, has been warned by a judge he could be sent to prison.

Peter Howard, 55, of Burnham Green Road, was convicted on Friday, March 14 of stalking the Welwyn Garden City mother he worked for by taking photographs of her, showing her cleavage, buttocks and legs.

He admitted taking the photographs between November 2012 and July 2013 for sexual gratification, and district judge Annabel Pilling rejected his defence that he had not caused repeated alarm or distress.

Defending Howard at St Albans Magistrates’ Court, Gemma Burns argued the victim had not been distressed until July 25 last year, when she caught Howard by using her own phone to video him with a camera in his hand.

But in cross-examination, prosecutor Bill Khindi challenged Howard: “You have a daughter. How would you feel if someone took pictures of her like that?

“The very fact you were taking images secretly shows you were aware it was wrong. It shows you knew it could cause distress.”

Howard had worked for the victim and her husband for six years, but she became uncomfortable at his behaviour in December 2012, suspicious he was standing unnecessarily close.

Unwilling to confront him or tell police without evidence, she managed to video him holding a camera while looking at her in the kitchen.

Moments later, she testified: “I heard a whoosh. There he was behind me, with his camera up my skirt. I could almost feel his finger on the back of my leg.

“I thought, I have caught you, thank goodness for that. What I thought had been going on for six to eight months was true. I felt betrayed, because I had recommended him to quite a few friends.”

Police who examined the camera found more than 200 photographs of the victim bending down or kneeling, and several were shown in court.

Judge Pilling told Howard: “Stalking her in her home is a gross betrayal of trust. It may well be that it crosses the custody threshold.”

She adjourned sentencing until April 4.

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