‘Tesco voyeur’ walks free

Paul Williamson leaves Antrim Crown Court. Picture: Alan Lewis.
Paul Williamson leaves Antrim Crown Court. Picture: Alan Lewis.

A voyeuristic former prison officer, captivated by the changing room at his local Tesco’s store where he captured women on his mobile phone undressing, was freed after being ordered to undergo an 18-month sex offenders’ treatment programme.

On Friday Antrim Crown Court heard that 46-year-old Paul Williamson snapped the vulnerable women in the hope of them having very little on.

When finially caught in June 2009 after secretly vidoeing women over a four month period, Williamson claimed “it was a stupid mistake”.

Judge Corinne Philpott QC told the father of two whose marriage and 22-year prison service career are both in tatters, that he’d taken “advantage of women in a vulnerable place where they thought they could change in peace”.

The court also heard that of his seven victims, six of whom still remain unidentified, three of them were filmed topless, while the others were pictured as they stripped to their underwear to try on dresses.

Williamson, from the Long Commons area of Coleraine, who pleaded guilty to a total of nine charges of voyeruism to obtain sexual gratification, will also remain on the Sex Offenders’ Register for the next five years and was barred from working with vulnerable adults.

Judge Philpott said the authorities did not consider Williamson posed a significant risk to the public in the future, and that since being caught in June 2009, he had owned up to what he had done and was now suffering the consequences.

The judge said she also accepted that a remorseful Williamson, who “likes observing women when they are in vulnerable positions”, had voluntarily gone and received treatment from his local mental health services in an attempt of dealing with his problems.

Judge Philpott told Williamson it was fortunate for him he was caught when he was, as his “latient interest” in snapping vulnerable women may have developed into something more serious.

Earlier prosecution lawyer Connor Maguire told the court that a woman, who stripped to try on some new bras, alerted Tesco security staff when she spotted what she took was a mobile phone pointing into her cubicle.

The court heard that Williamson immediately handed over his mobile to staff in the Coleraine store, who contacted police who later arrested him for voyeurism.

Mr Maguire said that during interview the prison officer readily admitted the offences, and that he “was remorseful, and in repect of his actions, wanted to apologise”.

A shamed Willliamson, he added, also revealed he got sexual gratification from filming womem and he caught a number of other women in various states of undress which he later downloaded from his mobile to his computer, where they were later found.

Defence lawyer Seamus McNeill said that Williamson, who now hopes to move and settle in England, had destroyed his marriage and career because of what he had done.

Williamson, he added, had since expressed genuine remorse, and was not simply the remorse of a man sorry for himself at being caught.

Mr McNeill said Williamson, through his treatment now had a sense of victim awareness and of the violation and pain he may have caused to others.

However, the lawyer said Williamson is assessed as being a low risk of offending in the future, and that his was not the most serious form of voyeurism, involving a breach of trust, but in reatlity could be seen as an invasion of his victims’ privacy.

A spokesperson for Tesco has confirmed the man was not an employee.