Postgraduate researcher cleared of charges of voyeurism on university campus (From The Northern Echo)
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Postgraduate researcher cleared of charges of voyeurism on Durham University campus
A POSTGRADUATE researcher who admitted peering at women showering and using the toilet has walked free from court after being cleared of voyeurism.
Daniel Steven John did not dispute the facts in the case, agreeing he sneaked into toilets at Durham University library, and shower blocks at St Mary’s and Trevelyan colleges, on the university campus.
In each case he was seen viewing women either at the toilet or naked, showering, by peering over the top or underneath the enclosed cubicles they were using.
Durham Crown Court heard that he fled each location after being spotted, but he was arrested a week after the last incident when he was recognised back at the Trevelyan College campus by a woman who had seen him running from the shower block seven days earlier.
When detained he became tearful and said he was suffering a breakdown, claiming he had considered suicide.
Mr John, 29, of High Grange, Crook, was charged with three counts of voyeurism, stemming from the incidents between April 17 and June 6 last year, but he denied them on the grounds that he had not been seeking sexual gratification.
In his defence he told the court he was suffering from a mental health breakdown at the time of the incidents as he feared he would be unable to complete his astrophysics research project.
He said he had lapsed into depression as his course funding had expired and he was struggling to meet new deadlines set by Durham University to complete the work for his PhD on Dark Matter.
Mr John told the court that in a bid to seek an adrenaline rush, or a “buzz” to lift him from his depressive periods he began performing “risky” behaviour.
This included taking belongings from colleagues at work, but putting them back before the loss was discovered, then he started using the women’s toilets in the physics department before receiving a final warning over his behaviour.
Evidence was given by consultant psychologist Bernard Kat who said it was possible that in such state of depression Mr John may have sought an adrenaline rush by risking being caught in inappropriate situations, like female toilets and shower rooms, without specifically seeking a sexual thrill.
The jury returned unanimous ‘not guilty’ verdicts on the third day of his trial and Judge Christopher Prince discharged Mr John.
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