A VOYEUR secretly filmed boys and young men for his own sexual gratification, a court was told.

Stephen Andrew Stonehouse’s recording of males, either bathing or using toilets, only emerged after his covertly-placed camera phones were spotted.

Durham Crown Court heard that among his “targets” were boys, aged 14 and 15, bathing, on separate occasions. Both noticed phones, one placed in a box containing a cut-out hole.

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Neil Moore, prosecuting, said one said nothing while the other questioned Stonehouse, who claimed the phone was there, “by mistake”.

A further case involved a 14-year-old boy using a public toilet at a workingmen’s club.

He looked up to see a mobile phone being placed on top of the cubicle.

Mr Moore said the teenager told his mother what happened and Stonehouse was confronted but denied any knowledge of what took place.

Another victim informed his father two years later and a complaint was made to police, who arrested Stonehouse, in May 2013.

Officers seized a lap-top computer, which, when examined, revealed a number of recordings of men and boys using toilets, bathing or showering.

Several of those featured on the footage were identified and contacted. None said they had consented.

When interviewed, Stonehouse tried to explain away his activities, but did concede filming one man in a shower.

Stonehouse, aged 28, of John Street, Sacriston, near Chester-le-Street, admitted eight counts of voyeurism at his first crown court appearance.

Lewis Kerr, mitigating, said the defendant concedes the recordings were for his own sexual gratification, but he now understood the “criminality” of his actions.

Mr Kerr added that Stonehouse has had to move out of his home area, fearing for his own safety.

Judge Penny Moreland told Stonehouse: “This was an intrusion of the victims’ privacy and distressing for them to discover they were being recorded while in private situations, in a bathroom or lavatory.

She imposed an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years during which Stonehouse will be subject to probation supervision, to include engaging in a sex offender treatment programme.

He will also be subject to restrictions under a sexual offences prevention order and registration as a sex offender, both for seven years.