Northern Ireland

Co Tyrone man jailed after admitting covertly taking images of young girls while they were changing

Lee Nugent (41) from Castleroddy Road, Omagh pleaded guilty
Lee Nugent (41) from Castleroddy Road, Omagh pleaded guilty

A CO Tyrone man who admitted covertly taking images of young girls while they were changing and filming another as she showered has been jailed for four years.

Lee Nugent (41) from Castleroddy Road, Omagh pleaded guilty to three counts of voyeurism, two of possessing indecent images of children and one of distributing an indecent image of a child.

Two of the voyeurism counts involved Nugent taking photographs through a window while two young girls were changing, but not at the same time.

As the activity was private, this led to voyeurism charges although the photographs did not show anything placing them in the category of indecent child imagery.

Both victims were in a state of partial undress and were topless at the time and one of them observed Nugent standing outside the window with his phone raised.

Police were alerted at this point, but no images found and Nugent gave a no comment interview.

A file was sent to the PPS and a recommendation was made by police not to prosecute.

However, the prosecutor was not satisfied and asked PSNI Cybercrime to investigate, resulting in the charges.

A total of 15 images were recovered and led to a further count of voyeurism including a covertly taken image of another 12-year-old girl as she was showering.

An additional charge of possessing an indecent image of a fourth victim was, according to Nugent, "sent to him by her boyfriend".

Offending occurred on dates between July and August 2019.

A prosecuting lawyer told Dungannon Crown Court some of the girls declined to give victim impact statements, however, one who did expressed fear that Nugent has "sent the images of her to others", which the prosecution advised there was no evidence this occurred.

However, it was stressed that "the impact on this victim has to be considered by the court as an aggravating factor", while another victim described feeling "violated" and underwent specialist counselling for a year.

A defence barrister said Nugent has no previous record and pleaded guilty at a very early stage. He explained Nugent’s mobile phone and computer were seized and analysis found nothing, with the exception of what was before the court.

"My client has shown remorse and taken steps to address his offending behaviour," said the defence.

While Judge Peter Irvine QC was satisfied the imagery "has not been shared with other perverts" adding it was "truly despicable series of behaviours".

Nugent was jailed for four years, to be served half in custody and half on licence.

He was also made subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for 10 years and will remain on the sex-offender register for the same duration.