A mobile phone shop sales manager has been handed a suspended sentence after admitting to downloading explicit photos from the handsets of two female customers.
Lee Hawkes, a sales manager at the Get Connected store in Brecon, Powys, was sentenced after admitting charges of unauthorised access to data and voyeurism, during a March hearing at Merthyr Crown Court.
Hawkes downloaded almost 200 images of the women from two devices after the phones were brought to his store for repairs and the practice was only uncovered after a complaint from a fellow member of staff.
The court was told that when the police raided Hawkes’s shop they found 48 images of a woman in her 20s as well as 135 sexually explicit images of a woman in her 30s that Hawkes had copied onto his computer from the phones using a memory card.
“Hawkes persuaded the first woman to invest in a new phone. She was concerned about losing personal information on it and he offered to assist her. Staff at the shop were allowed to transfer contact numbers but nothing more than that. When she left her old phone Hawkes saw it contained very personal, naked and explicit pictures of her. He put the images into his own phone before transferring them on to his computer,” said Rachel Knight, who was prosecuting, according to the BBC.
Police seized phones, USB devices and computers in the lead up to Hawkes’s arrest and it followed a complaint from a fellow staff member. This was backed up by comments in court where a staff member professed to being “gobsmacked” when Hawkes showed him the images and said that it was an “industry-wide” practice and as such “normal behaviour.”
Hawkes was sentenced to three months for the two counts of unauthorised access to data and four months for the voyeurism, with both suspended for 12 months. In addition he has to sign the sex offenders’ register.
"He is absolutely ashamed of his behaviour and is genuinely remorseful. He was overwhelmed by the consequences that followed," said Lucy Crowther in Hawkes’ defence.