Charges, Sentencing and Defences for Filming a Person Engaged in a Private Act in NSW

 

It is reported that 52-year-old chiropractor, Peter Snodgrass secretly video recorded many of his clients for a period between 2012 and 2017 for his own sexual gratification.

The court heard that he he commenced this offending behaviour using his mobile phone when he first took a photo of a patient he was massaging.

He subsequently used a pen which contained a hidden camera to do the recording. Later on, he moved to using an alarm clock containing a secret camera to record his patients.

The victims he secretly recorded for 5 years were aged between 11 – 60.

Snodgrass told the court that because “breasts have always been my sexual preference”, he was usually interested in recording women’s breasts.

Some of the labelled files included, “14 and hot”, “big tits”.

The court also heard that this material was all downloaded onto a hard drive. Each file was named by him according to the physical appearance of the people depicted in it.

The 52-year-old man further conceded to downloading child exploitation material in addition to video recording some of his own sexual partners without consent.

 

The Sentence

Snodgrass was sentenced on Friday by Supreme Court Justice Anne Bampton, who expressed his offending conduct as “Voraciously voyeuristic” and which “transgressed professional and moral boundaries”.

He was sentenced to 10-years and three months and fifteen days imprisonment. This sentenced comprises of an 8-years, 2 months and 18-days non-parole period- representing the period of full-time imprisonment he must endure before being eligible for release back into the community on parole.

Charges, Sentencing and Defences for Filming a Person Engaged in a Private Act in NSW

In NSW, it is a crime to film a person for your own sexual gratification (or for the sexual gratification of someone else) if:

  • The person filmed was in circumstances he/she would ordinarily expect privacy (being engaged in a private act).
  • The person filmed did not consent to be filmed for sexual gratification.
  • You knew that the person filmed did not consent to be filmed for sexual gratification.

What is the meaning of ‘engaging in a private act’? Under the law, a person is considered to be engaged in a private act if that person is in a state of undress, showering, using a toilet, or engaging in a sexual act of a kind ordinarily not done in public. It also includes any similar conduct in circumstances he/she would ordinarily expect privacy.

The aggravated version of this offence occurs if each of the above elements are present, in addition to “circumstances of aggravation”.

“circumstances of aggravation” is when the filmed person is a child who is under 16-years of age or where the offender had “constructed or adapted the fabric of any building for the purpose of facilitating the commission of the offence”.

It is equally a crime with the same maximum penalties if a person attempts to commit these offences.

Section 91K Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) prescribes a maximum penalty of 2-years jail or $11,000 fine, or both for anyone who commits the offence of filming a person engaged in a private act in NSW.

There is a maximum punishment of 5-years jail for committing this offence in “circumstances of aggravation” prescribed by section 91K(3) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

What are the defences to filming a person engaged in a private act in NSW? Defences to this charge include any of the following:

  • You honestly believed on reasonable grounds that the person filmed consented to be filmed for sexual gratification.
  • The filming was not for your sexual gratification or for someone else’s.
  • The person filmed was filmed in circumstances he/she would not ordinarily expect privacy.
  • Duress or necessity.
  • Mental illness defence.
  • Mistaken identity.

Have a question on this area of law? Our criminal lawyers are in Sydney who specialise in sexual assault charges and sentences, with multiple offices across NSW conveniently located close to the courts. We offer a free first consultation and are available 24/7.

About Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Leading Criminal Lawyers in Sydney, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Criminal Courts.

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