LONDON: A UK-based Indian-origin accountant has been jailed for four years as he pleaded guilty to 15 counts for offences, including acts of voyeurism and taking obscene photographs of children after he was found to have put up secret cameras in various locations across London.
George Thomas installed recording devices in bedrooms and bathrooms in his own home, shower rooms and lavatories at his work place and bathrooms in a large number of coffee shops in central London. The 38-year-old, who is married with a child and lived in Greenwich area of south London, filmed more than 3,500 people, including some children and babies, over a six-year period starting in 2009, London Crown Court revealed this week.
"This case is undoubtedly a sophisticated, organised, planned and long-running campaign of voyeurism the scale of which, the court is told, is beyond any previously encountered by the Metropolitan Police," said Judge Jeremy Donne. Thomas worked as a manager at global professional services firm Ernst & Young, where in March this year a female colleague found a device in the company's shower room.
Scotland Yard began inquiries and found the device contained footage of the suspect planting equipment and images which they recognised as being filmed in a coffee shop chain. Officers attended the nearest coffee shop and discovered a second camera hidden in the customer toilet. Thomas was identified as the suspect in the footage and arrested.
Detective Constable Sarah Gardner of Southwark Borough said "The images of unsuspecting people going about their daily business, and having their privacy breached in this way was appalling".
"Thomas' offending was extraordinary, not just because of the sheer numbers of people he filmed but also due to the highly organised way, in which he saved, stored and filed the footage. "I would like to thank all of the companies that have assisted and supported the police through this investigation, particularly Thomas' former employers who were pivotal in helping us to identify him. Due to the nature of the offences, I must consider if Thomas has committed other offences that we are not aware of".
Besides a four-year jail term, Thomas has been given a "Sexual Harm Prevention Order" for 10-years and will remain on the sex offenders' register for life. A spokesperson from Ernst & Young said "These criminal charges concern a disturbing invasion of individual privacy which we find appalling. We have been doing everything we can to support those individuals from EY affected and to assist the police in their ongoing investigation. The individual has now been convicted and sentenced".
The prosecution said some victims were filmed in their own homes or bedrooms and that some of Thomas' former colleagues now feel anxious and vulnerable using the bathroom at work.