FROM THE BLOG

Perth man jailed for installing hidden camera in childcare centre toilet

A Perth man who admitted he had been a “peeping Tom” since he was a child has been jailed for installing hidden cameras in a staff toilet at the childcare centre where he worked, and in his own bathroom.

Photo: A staff member found the camera on the same day Ker installed it in the bathroom.

In February last year Rodney Howard Ker, 51, was working as a groundsman at the Gowrie Early Childcare Education and Care Centre in Karawara when he hid a miniature video camera inside an adapted rat trap and placed it in the locked unisex toilet, before pressing the record button.

The District Court was told the device was found later the same day by another staff member who brought it to Ker’s attention.

He took the camera, removed the memory card which contained the footage, and took it home to delete its contents.

Three days later Ker was arrested and police discovered on his computer recordings of three people getting changed in the bathroom of his home.

Ker admitted that between 2014 and 2016 he installed a hidden camera to record people using the bathroom and shower.

In an interview with police said he had been a “peeping Tom” since he was a child and was aiming to record the victims in various state of undress.

Ker pleaded guilty to four charges of installing an optical device to record a private activity, and one count of wilfully destroying evidence.

Judge Michael Bowden said Ker had acknowledged his motive was for “sexual gratification” because he liked seeing naked flesh and found it “appealing” that people did not know he was recording them.

The court heard Ker had moved to Queensland since the offences, had sought private psychological counselling and had attended a self help group, Sexaholics Anonymous, to try to understand why he had done what he did.

Mr Bowden accepted that Ker had otherwise been a hardworking, highly thought of member of the community and that he was remorseful and embarrassed about his crimes.

However Mr Bowden said the offences were so serious an immediate term of imprisonment needed to be imposed to deter others from doing the same.

He sentenced Ker to nine months’ jail. He will have to serve half the term before he can be released.

Children never at risk, centre operator says

In a statement from the childcare centre operator, Gowrie WA, chairman Nick Wood said the bathroom where the camera was installed was used only by staff and children had no access to it at any time.

“The staff member involved in this incident was immediately dismissed from his employment with Gowrie WA and remains banned from going near any of our centres,” Mr Wood said.

“[He] was not directly connected in any way to the care of children, rather his position involved the provision of property services.”

Mr Wood said the company remained “deeply concerned” about the impact of the offences on any staff who may have been recorded, and said they had been offered counselling and ongoing support.

Mr Wood also pointed out that Ker, like all the company’s employees, had all necessary clearances, including a valid Working with Children Check.

“Our organisation has decades of experience in working with children and upholds best practice standards to ensure the highest levels of protection possible,” he said.

“Our paramount concern is the welfare of our staff and children in our care.”

By Joanna Menagh

Source: ABC.net – AU

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