The Penalty for Peeping in NSW

Sahar Adatia.

 

It’s a weird and warped world out there.

No more can we be reminded of this worrying fact of life than with the fresh news that a police hunt is presently underway for a man in the United Kingdom donning a gimp suit who was recently spotted spying on a couple through their bedroom window in the village of Somerset.

Making matters more dire, residents of the town now fear the stranger, fittingly named the ‘gimp man’, may have returned to terrorise more residents.

The unsettling update comes after reports were made to local police officers on 1 September 2021 that the masked man had been seen peering through a window of a Claverham property, shortly after midnight.

While officers instigated a search, they were unable to locate the man in the leather body suit.

Troublingly, prior to this incident, police had received 14 reports of a man approaching people in the town wearing perverse disguises.

One of these included a 2019 incident in which a man, also dressed in gimp attire, had charged at woman in the Claverham village, leaving her terrified.

Now, offices are attempting to establish whether the latest encounter could be linked to those before it.

But the one thing that remains certain is that the recent sighting of ‘gimp man’ has spooked locals.

 

Local Shares Horrifying Story of Encountering Man in Rubbery Suit Who Kept “Touching His Groin, Grunting and Breathing Heavy”

Back in July 2019 when the so-called ‘gimp man’ was last spotted, it is reported he charged at a 25-year-old woman named Abi.

Recounting the horrors of her experience, Abi spoke to the BBC about the incident.

“I was walking along with my torch and looked up to see someone charging at me in a full black rubbery suit and managed to take a picture,” Abi told the news outlet.

“He kept coming towards me and was touching his groin, grunting and breathing heavy.

“As I tried to take a step back, he was right in front of my face and he put his leg forward.

“I was just trying to assess the situation in my head quickly.”

Throughout the encounter, Abi felt distressed about trying to escape and feared she was going to get attacked.

“Everything was running through my head. I thought: ‘This is it, I’m going to get attacked’. I was looking around thinking, ‘Oh my God’,” the young woman said.

Following the incident, she felt compelled to report the man, saying, “I would never forgive myself if this happened to someone else and I hadn’t said anything”.

In the aftermath of Abi’s report, police arrested two men, aged 28 and 34, on suspicion of indecency.

However, both were released with no further action due to insufficient evidence.

Upon learning of the latest sighting of the strange man spying at a couple in his black elastic suit, Abi said, “My heart felt like I was running a marathon, [there was] an instant feeling of panic, anxiety and anger again which took me over a year of private counselling and medications to control.

“If I’m not worrying at home, I’m worrying at work because my wife’s at home and so are many other women.”

Meanwhile, it’s not just Abi who is fearful of the man’s torment.

A woman from the area, who wished to remain anonymous, also spoke to BBC, saying her children were feeling anxious about the return of ‘gimp man’.

“I’ve got older children and even my kids are saying ‘it’s the gimp man again’,” the woman said.

“They’re really freaked out by it.”

It is understood patrols have been increased in the village.

The Penalty for Peeping in NSW

Generally speaking, within the context of the law, the terms peeping and prying associate themselves with a person who obtains sexual gratification by watching unsuspecting individuals furtively.

In many cases, this specifically involves a person who looks through windows at night for this sexual gratification – the scientific term being a “Peeping Tom”.

Peeping Toms are known to engage in spying, particularly of people naked, undressing or carrying out sexual activity, because it brings them sexual arousal.

When it comes to the law on peeping and prying, in NSW, this is reflected in section 547 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

According to this, it is a crime to intentionally look, peep or pry on another person without reasonable cause while you are either in a building or near a building. This carries up to 3-months imprisonment or a fine of $220. This is a summary offence which is dealt with in the Local Court.

To avoid a conviction for this charge, the charge must either be dismissed on a finding of ‘not guilty’ by the court, or upon pleading guilty and thereby receiving a section 10 non-conviction or Conditional Release Order non-conviction.

Given privacy is a right to all citizens, the offence of peeping and prying is taken seriously by the courts and can result in a criminal conviction.

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