Monday 1 May 2017

TV gardener faces jail for recording women using the bathroom with camera hidden in air freshener

Stephen Brookes who who admitted observing seven women doing private acts, faces a jail sentence after using an air freshener to conceal a camera in a bathroom
Stephen Brookes who who admitted observing seven women doing private acts, faces a jail sentence after using an air freshener to conceal a camera in a bathroom

Matthew Cooper

A gardening expert and TV presenter rigged up a hidden camera to record women using a bathroom, leaving his victims disgusted and horrified, a court has heard.

Stephen Brookes, who admitted observing seven women doing private acts, faces a jail sentence after using an air freshener to conceal a camera linked to a mobile phone app.

Leamington Spa Magistrates' Court was told that married Brookes, of Loxley Road, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, was arrested in September after the motion-sensitive camera was found.

Police then seized a memory card, an iPhone and an iPad belonging to Brookes, leading to the recovery of 300 files, including numerous videos.

Prosecutor Baldev Atwal told the court: "It appears the device was on a constant recording loop.

"Mr Brookes's iPhone had an application whereby he would be aware of the activation of that camera and could watch the recordings as they were reviewed and unfolded.

"What will clearly trouble this court is that Mr Brookes has gone to some extent and some length planning and setting up the camera."

Michael Jervis, defending, said Brookes appreciated that he was facing a custodial sentence and regarded his own behaviour as disgraceful and disgusting.

"He is full of remorse," Mr Jervis said of his client. "Mr Brookes has a reputation locally of great repute.

"He has become a very well-known character in the local community. He has a very close-knit family and despite his behaviour his family are supporting him."

The defence lawyer told magistrates: "You see what he does - he writes books, he has been on television. He has created a certain character to encourage youngsters to become interested in horticulture.

"If you look at his behaviour throughout the last few years then he is a man of impeccable character."

But Mr Jervis added of 55-year-old Brookes: "He is in many ways a ruined man - his income certainly is going to suffer.

"His life has been ruined simply because of these very stupid acts."

Magistrates opted to commit Brookes for sentence at Warwick Crown Court on February 8, ruling that their powers of punishment - a one-year jail term - were insufficient.

Chairman of the bench Paul Tasker told Brookes: "We have come to the decision that we do not have enough powers to sentence you appropriately."

Brookes, who was granted bail, has worked with several broadcasting groups on numerous shows, including a gardening phone-in on BBC local radio in the Coventry and Warwickshire area.

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