Kelowna winery peeper was fixated on a co-worker, Crown says | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna winery peeper was fixated on a co-worker, Crown says

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
November 18, 2020 - 2:27 PM

A Kelowna man who set up two secret cameras in the staff bathroom of a popular Okanagan winery was motivated by a "fixation on an employee," Crown counsel said today, Nov. 18.

"That’s the reason why he put the camera there — to obtain images of her for his self-interest," Crown counsel Jean-Benoit Deschamps said in the sentencing hearing for Ian Leighton, who worked at Summerhill in August 2019, which was the time of the offence.

Deschamps recommended a sentence of nine to 12 months for voyeurism and an additional 12 months for obstruction. If Judge Clark Burnett were to agree, Leighton could spend as much as two years in prison. Burnett will not be sentencing today and the matter will be concluded at a later date.

Leighton, who pleaded guilty last March to two counts of secretly observing or recording nudity in a private place and one count of obstruction, was in court today. He was arrested after a hidden camera was found in a staff washroom of Summerhill Winery in the summer of 2019.

According to the particulars of the crime, as read by Deschamps, Leighton had two cameras running at the winery bathroom that summer and it was an employee who spotted them. One camera was inside the baseboard heater facing a toilet inside the washroom, the second was on or near the toilet.

Ultimately, 31 videos were recovered from both cameras' memory cards, depicting 13 people in a revealing state. A video of Leighton setting up the camera was also found on the disk and he was caught on Summerhill's surveillance camera trying to destroy the evidence in the immediate aftermath of being caught. Dozens more files were apparently erased from the disk at an undisclosed time.

"All videos were made surreptitiously and people captured were unaware they were being filmed," Deschamps said 

While the victims of Leighton's crimes weren't aware he'd captured their images, that doesn't mean they don't still grapple with the effects of what was done.

Reading from a victim impact statement, Deschamps said one guest who was caught on the video continued to feel "angry, violated, sad and generally upset" long after learning she'd been part of the footage.

"Nobody should have to worry about something malicious like this happening," she said, adding that Leighton would have known that guests to the winery may have used the staff bathroom on this particular occasion.

"(He) had no regard for the pain he might cause. It's hard to wrap my brain around it... Sometimes I feel embarrassed when I think of the offence. I know I shouldn't be embarrassed because I wasn't the one who did anything wrong," she said. She added that a family member was also on Leighton's video because she had asked her to go into the washroom with her, and for that, she struggles with feelings of guilt.

All of which, she said, is compounded by the fact that she was a sexual assault survivor already. Leighton's act, she said, has caused anxiety and mistrust of once seemingly harmless spaces.

Deschamps said Leighton had expressed feelings of remorse in the aftermath of being caught. A psychological assessment conducted for the purposes of sentencing indicates that Leighton had a fairly regular life but alcohol affected his life. He had no mental illness and is believed to be at low to moderate risk to re-offend.

The maximum penalty for voyeurism is five years, and obstruction has a maximum of 10 years, Deschamps said. A two-year sentence, as recommended, seemed to cause judge Burnett some consternation, noting that it was a lengthy sentence for such a crime.

Deschamps said the facts that there were multiple victims, the crime was planned and calculated and deliberate as well as the fact he tried to hide evidence from police, placed the moral blameworthiness on the higher end of the scale.

"The invasion of privacy... clear images of penises, vaginas and buttocks in a room where everyone expects privacy and basically, there are multiple victims as well as victims under 18 years old," were aggravating factors he listed.

The mitigating factor is a guilty plea and remorse.

He was originally charged with more than a dozen counts, however, those charges were stayed upon entry of his guilty plea.

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