Peeping tom sent to jail

03 April 2019 | Justice

A South African tourist, while on holiday in Namibia, was recently sentenced to a one-year prison term by the Swakopmund Magistrate's Court without the option of paying a fine, after he was caught taking photos of a 24-year-old female tourist who was showering at a well-known hotel in town.

The bizarre matter was finalised within a few days after Gavin Booth (51) was convicted of housebreaking with the intent of violating another person's privacy, as well as crimen injuria.

Booth initially denied the allegations. Only after he was presented with footage recorded by a CCTV camera, did he plead guilty to the charge. Booth, who is regarded as a peeping tom, as well as the 24-year-old victim and her boyfriend, were all guests at the same hotel. All three tourists are South African nationals.

The video footage, which was recorded on 14 March, shows Booth leaving his hotel room at about 08:00 that morning. He walks down a corridor past several rooms when he suddenly stops in front of one of the rooms, listens briefly and then looks around several times. He then steps onto a bench and opens a small bathroom window and peeps inside. Then he takes out his cellphone from his pocket and starts taking pictures.

Shortly thereafter he descends from the bench and analyses the footage on his phone and is, seemingly, not satisfied. He climbs back up. This time he turns on the camera's flash and takes more photos.

This alerted the victim, as Booth suddenly gets off the bench and hurries down the hallway. Shortly thereafter, the visibly shocked victim appears with a towel wrapped around her body together with her fully-clothed boyfriend, who search for the culprit - in vain. Booth was identified on the basis of the video recording and was arrested a few hours later.

Namibian Sun understands that Booth initially denied the allegations. According to a reliable source he said that he was on holiday in Namibia and attended a certain, exclusive nudist shower event where he had ample opportunity to take photos, but did not do so. Only after he was presented with the video footage, did he admit the incident.

During his trial, Booth's third lawyer Marinus Scholtz, asked the court to impose a fine and listed mitigating circumstances. He said Booth takes care of his two children and will seek psychological help.

“He earns a good salary (in Johannesburg) and has apologised to the victim and deleted the photos,” he said, adding, “A proper sentence would not be imprisonment.”

State prosecutor Latoya Katjitundu, however, called in the victim as a witness, who was visibly upset in court. “I feel very violated,” the 24-year old said.

“I feel ashamed. I feel dirty; and I feel I have done something wrong while I did not.” She added that since the incident she and her boyfriend feel “insecure” and cannot “go to sleep with an open window”. “I feel cheap because somebody saw me naked who has no right to,” she said, adding: “I don't want anyone to go through what I went through.”

While passing sentence Magistrate Nelao Brown described Booth's act as “serious” and “heinous”. “Those who intend to embark on this apparently self-pleasing journey, if not for extortion purposes, must know that if they should be caught, they are not going to be let off lightly,” she said.

Brown continued: “The element of deterrence is particularly important.”

“The accused himself indicated that he did so accidentally (take photos), but his blameworthiness is undoubtedly disputed.”

Brown subsequently sentenced Booth to twelve months imprisonment without the option of paying a fine.

Erwin Leuschner

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