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Friday 22 August 2014

CCTV operator used police security camera to spy on woman in apartment

Ashleigh McDonald

Published 26/06/2014 | 22:34

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The man was working for the PSNI at the time of the incident

A security camera operator has been convicted of using police CCTV equipment to spy on a young woman in her apartment for his own sexual gratification.

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Hi-tech voyeur Ciaran McCleave shook his head in the dock of Belfast Crown Court as the forewoman of the jury returned guilty verdicts on all eight charges levelled against him.

During a trial which lasted more than a week, the jury heard how the former civilian CCTV operator, from Collinward Gardens in Newtownabbey, sat at a workstation 'pod' in front of a bank of 48 cameras at Antrim Road PSNI station.

The cameras monitored interface areas in north Belfast and the city centre.

The court was told McCleave's offending came to light on November 12, 2012 when a colleague noticed that Camera 17 — usually trained on the Whitewell Road and Shore Road junction— had been zoomed in to the living room of a young woman's apartment.

The camera, which at the time was being controlled by 50-year-old McCleave, captured the woman walking round her living room firstly wrapped in a towel and then wearing just a black thong.

Earlier in the trial, the jury heard that when asked during a police interview if he had been specifically asked to keep an eye on the private dwelling by an officer, McCleave said he hadn't.

He did, however, say someone had told him it was a “party house”, there was a lot of “coming and going” and that he thought drugs may have been dealt from the apartment.

When he was questioned about the spying, McCleave replied: “I know I shouldn't have been looking in to her living room window.”

When the officer pointed out that the woman was in a state of undress, McCleave was asked whether he gained gratification from this, to which he replied “no, no.”

As well as being found guilty of that act of voyeurism for his own sexual gratification on November 12, 2012, McCleave was also found guilty of a further six counts of attempted voyeurism, which were carried out over a period spanning from October 29, 2012 to November 14, 2012.

The court heard that two days after training the camera into the woman's living room when she was in a state of undress, the same camera operated by McCleave was directed at her apartment a total of 40 times.

The woman, who has since moved out, is still receiving counselling.

McCleave, who was employed by Resource, was also found guilty of misconduct in a public office.

As the verdicts were read out, relatives of McCleave's cried in the public gallery. As they were leaving, some people who had come to support McCleave verbally attacked his victim, who was visibly upset.

After the guilty verdicts were returned, Crown prosecutor Tessa Kitson asked if McCleave would have to sign the Sex Offenders Register.

Judge Paul Ramsey said that wouldn't be the case today, but said “it may arise when sentence is passed.”

Pre-sentence reports will now be compiled and McCleave was told he will be sentenced on September 5.

Judge Ramsey released him on bail but warned him not to take this as an indication of the sentence he will receive.

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