Law on Peeping or Prying in NSW

By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.

 

A 51-year-old man has been arrested after he was allegedly caught peeping through a bedroom window at a woman as she lay asleep in her Stanmore home in Sydney’s Inner West.

NSW Police informs that at around 2:00am on 31 March 2020, a 25-year-old law student woke up to the discovery of a man lurking outside her bedroom window, staring at her as she slept.

Frightened, the woman alerted her housemates, who noticed the man wandering in-and-out of other properties nearby.

The incident was quickly reported to police leading to officers attached to Inner West Police Area Command launching an investigation.

 

Man Located at Home on Ford Street and Taken to Newtown Police Station

After probing into the matter and hunting the suspect for almost a month, at 8:30pm on 20 April, police were led to a home on Ford Street in the neighbouring suburb of Petersham.

A 51-year-old man was arrested and taken to Newtown Police Station.

He was charged with peep or pry, and enter enclosed lands not prescribed premises without lawful excuse.

The man was refused bail and appeared at Central Local Court the following day.

 

Denied Bid for Freedom as Magistrate Refuses Bail 

7­News Sydney reports that at Central Local Court on 21 April, the man made a bid for his freedom, however when making a bail application, which the magistrate denied.

This came as a huge relief for his alleged victim, who is still disturbed by the incident.

The law student said she had fallen asleep and left her curtains open.

She thought she heard a voice and someone saying something about “sleeping sweetly”.

Then, when she looked up, the man was at her window with his hands gripped around the bars as he peered in.

The man remains locked up and is due to return to court next week.

 

The Problem of Peeping Toms: Delving into The Desire for Forbidden Fruit

Peeping Toms exist in all different shapes and sizes.

Although it sounds surprising, while most would not admit it, research reveals that many people would grab the opportunity to have a peek at someone when they know they shouldn’t.

In a study of voyeurism titled “Voyeurism: It Is Good as Long as We Do Not Get Caught” by researchers B.J. Rye and Glenn Meaney, it was discovered that a significant percentage of people surveyed confessed they would watch an attractive person undressing if they knew they would not be caught.

In fact, the researchers also unearthed that some people – mainly men compared to women – also admitted they would watch two attractive people having sex if they knew they would not be detected.

As for those with prying eyes in public spaces, research reveals that while such people are not necessarily expecting to see people naked, having sex, or undressing, they instead seek the cheap thrill from scoring a flash.

Such people linger in any public space where they might potentially catch a glimpse of something they shouldn’t see.

Law on Peeping or Prying in NSW

For most members of society, the right to privacy is something that is highly valued.

As such, attempts to interfere with this basic human right can attract criminal charges and heavy penalties, including a criminal conviction.

In NSW, it is an offence to be in a building, or near a building, with the intention of looking, peeping or prying upon another person, without a reasonable cause.

In fact, breaching this law carries a maximum penalty of 3-months jail or $220 fine, or both, including a criminal conviction against your name (section 547C Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)).

Examples of peeping or prying can include peeping through the window of your neighbour’s place while they get changed, prying through an adjoining wall in a townhouse to observe your neighbours, ambling around a building looking through windows to watch the people who are inside.

The offence of peep or pry is regarded as a summary offence, meaning it will be dealt with in the Local Court before a magistrate.

Although the offence is a relatively minor one, it can still have the potential to result in a criminal conviction, unless a court imposes a non-conviction sentence under section 10.

Have a question on peeping offences in NSW? Call our friendly team 24/7 to arrange a Free first consult with one of our experienced criminal lawyers in Parramatta or Sydney CBD.

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