A FORMER police inspector has tarnished his previous exemplary record of public service after being convicted of voyeurism.

Gerard Fairclough today (Thursday May 12) received a suspended prison sentence after admitting four counts of the offence, having covertly filmed a teenage woman, including footage of her naked emerging from a shower cubicle.

The 54-year-old retired Northumbria force inspector’s unwholesome activities came to light after the victim discovered his phone when she came out of the shower and informed her mother.

Contents of the phone were examined, revealing several hours of footage featuring the young woman, in various states of undress, while an old phone was later found containing other offending footage from months earlier.

Durham Crown Court was told Fairclough, of Chandlers Road, Sunderland, was confronted and police were contacted.

Anne Richardson, prosecuting, said although he made denials to all questions put to him in two police interviews, by the time the case came before magistrates, in March, he admitted all four charges.

An impact statement, given by the victim, was read by her to the court from behind a screen.

She said his offending had made her, “sick to the stomach”, and she described the months since she discovered his phone as, “a nightmare”, affecting her experience as a university student, saying: “This wasn’t how I dreamed my university life would be.”

The victim said it has affected her emotionally and she has had to seek counselling, while she no longer feels secure when alone.

Jamie Hill, in mitigation, said: “It’s perhaps bordering on the unfathomable to understand how a 54-year-old man of previous exemplary conduct has committed this, somebody who has given 24 years, nearly 25 years, of public service.

“He accepts he has brought great shame, not only on himself and his family, and to some degree to those with whom he served for so many years.

“He accepts it’s entirely his fault.”

Mr Hill said the defendant accepted his actions amounted to, “a great invasion of privacy,” adding, “he’s spoken frankly about that.”

He went on: “He knows that saying ‘sorry’ can’t fix this.

“On his behalf I do say he’s deeply ashamed and bitterly regrets what he has done.

“He began that process of trying to get the point across at the magistrates’ court.

“It’s a matter of regret he panicked and was too frightened to make admissions to his former colleagues, but he had the good sense to plead ‘guilty’ at magistrates’ court.

“He knows everything he did before his offending can be looked back again in a prism of that offending.

“Those 24 years of exemplary conduct have been highly tarnished.”

Mr Hill said, “Although tarnished, he did have an exemplary record as an officer and as a public servant.”

But he said as a result of the offence he has suffered, “extreme humiliation within the community”, by way of vigilante websites and social media posts.

“I don’t raise this to receive pity, or sympathy, but it highlights the stigma.

“He’s receiving punishment on a daily basis within the community.”

Mr Hill described the social media shame as, “the 21st Century equivalent to putting someone in the stocks, except it doesn’t go away,” adding that the defendant has been “disowned” by many former friends and colleagues.

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He said Fairclough has voluntarily embarked on a course of counselling to understand his offending and, “hasn’t buried his head from the world.”

Mr Hill said the defendant hopes this would make him understand whatever “triggered” the offending, so it doesn’t activate again.

Judge James Adkin said Fairclough was to be sentenced for, “seriously deviant behaviour”, and said his status in the community, going forward, was, “essentially a pariah”.

Imposing a 12-month prison sentence, he said it could be suspended for two years as the defendant poses, “no risk to the public” and is of previous good character, although he said that might not have been the case had his victim been younger.

Describing it as, “morally repugnant behaviour”, he said Fairclough should complete 30 probation-led rehabilitation activity days and undergo 220 hours’ unpaid work.

The judge also made him subject of registration as a sex offender for ten years and a restraining order, relating to the victim, “until further order.”

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