Friday 28 October 2016

PhD student used mobile phone to take lewd pictures up women's skirts at wedding

Published 29/10/2015 | 13:54

Courts (Stock photo)
Courts (Stock photo)

A PhD student has been found guilty of using his mobile phone to take lewd pictures up women's skirts at a wedding.

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Californian Collin Lieberg, 34, was spotted by guests and caught on CCTV footage at the Oyster Shed pub near London Bridge leaning in towards girls in short summer dresses and angling his phone under the hemlines.

The Warwick University student denied it, claiming he suffered from a nervous tic and had been checking scores on a sports app and browsing Facebook and Twitter on his phone.

The Old Bailey jury deliberated for a day before finding him guilty of outraging public decency by committing an "act of lewd, obscene and disgusting nature" by taking or attempting to take pictures with his mobile phone.

Judge Christine Henson QC indicated he would receive a community order and adjourned sentencing for a report to examine whether Lieberg would benefit from a sex offenders' rehabilitation programme.

She said: "This is clearly a serious matter. It is a huge violation of privacy of those individuals. A community order is no detraction from the serious matter."

The court had heard how Lieberg, of Hills Lane, Shrewsbury, had been acting strangely around young women at the reception on July 26 last year.

CCTV cameras at the venue had captured him leaning in closely with his mobile phone hovering near the bottoms of girls' skirts.

When best man Leo Steele confronted him and asked directly if he had taken photos up women's skirts, Lieberg had told him "possibly", the court heard.

And before handing over his phone for inspection, Mr Steele, a theatre producer, said he had done more than unlock it.

Jurors heard no pictures from the wedding have been recovered from Lieberg's mobile.

In his defence, Lieberg told jurors he only used his mobile that night to check scores on a sports app, browse Facebook and Twitter, message his wife and "possibly play a game or two".

And his awkward physical movements shown on the CCTV were put down to a habitual twitch or tic which is made worse by alcohol.

On his exchange with Mr Steele, he told jurors: "It's not something you get accused of every day. You don't know how to respond to these things. It just seems a shocking allegation."

"I think he said if I don't stop twitching he would call the police. He did not appreciate it. He did not like it."

He added that the best man had also told him he might throw him in a river and he found the whole conversation "very confrontational".

The court heard Lieberg had married in 2011, the same year he left the United States so he could study for a PhD in history at Warwick.

He had taken on a part-time job at the HMV music store in Shrewsbury while his wife Courtney worked in a Waterstones bookshop, the court heard.

On the evening of the obscene behaviour, the couple had been among 140 guests at the wedding reception after being invited by the bride Hannah, who was also doing a history PhD at the same university.

Describing himself and his wife as "socially awkward", he said he had drunk up to nine glasses of wine during the evening, making him progressively more drunk.

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