When police raided a cubicle in the men’s toilet at Riccarton’s Westfield Mall, they found a foreigner with a cellphone containing a folder titled “Spy Toilet”.
The folder had 101 videos and images of men’s genitalia, as they used the urinal, taken through holes poked through the toilet cubicle wall or over the top of the wall.
The foreigner, a migrant who has name suppression at present, now faces possible deportation to South America after his sentencing by Judge Tom Gilbert in the Christchurch District Court.
The 23-year-old was found guilty by Judge Gilbert at a judge-alone trial in December.
He was convicted of wilful damage for poking holes in the toilet wall, and a representative charge of making the intimate visual recordings. He was also convicted of failing to come to court while on bail.
Defence counsel Natalie Wham said the man wished to apologise to all the victims, but none of their names were known.
The man has been refused name suppression but has appealed the decision in the High Court. That appeal hearing has been held but the decision has not yet been released.
If Judge Gilbert had jailed the man, Immigration New Zealand would have considered deporting him after he had served his time.
Because he got a community-based sentence – six months of home detention and 100 hours of community work – the immigration authorities may consider his deportation immediately.
Ms Wham said the man had done 200 hours of voluntary work while he was on remand and wished to continue doing that as his community work if it was allowed.
She said: “He feels remorse for what he has done. He has prided himself on being an empathetic and kind person. The fact that he has caused harm has been an unpleasant surprise for him.”
He now considered that he was a better person than when the offending happened, she said. He had been attending counselling with a migrant support organisation.
In December 2017, mall staff found that someone had drilled small holes in the walls of a toilet cubicle, about waist height, giving a view to the urinal next door. They repaired the holes, but found they had been reopened.
Security footage showed the man arriving in his car and going to the toilets. He used a small screwdriver to push the plaster out of the repaired holes and then used his cellphone to take pictures and videos which centred on the genitals of men using the urinal.
He would stay in the cubicle for more than an hour.
When security staff detected him back at the mall on January 12, 2018, they alerted the police who found him in the cubicle, holding his cellphone.
“Police suspected you had been taking photographs of the patrons and a large number of photos were noted in a folder on the phone labelled ‘Spy Toilet’,” said Judge Gilbert.
The judge said he had to consider how to hold the man accountable, and denounce his behaviour. His offending had been highly premeditated and had involved a large number of unwitting victims.
He noted the man had no previous convictions. He said the legislation did not allow him to take into account the possibility of immediate deportation in imposing the sentence.