Monday, 18 May 2009

"What's wrong with this picture?"

A man with a website devoted to Spandex-clad women has been given a 28-week suspended jail term after secretly filming female swimmers.
This is a crime...?
Michael Matthews, 40, filmed participants at a gala in Sheffield's Pond Forge International Sports Centre.

A fellow commuter noticed Matthews watching the footage on his laptop on a train to London and told police.
Now, why would a fellow commuter call the police to report that someone is viewing boobie shots on his laptop, and have any real expectation of them not laughing and putting the phone down.

Well, as you might have guessed, it's 'for the children'!
Prosecuting at Southwark Crown Court, Peter Zinner explained how Matthews was caught looking at the images.

He said: "Unfortunately for him another member of the public was able to use the reflection of an adjacent window to see Matthews use what he believed was a laptop to view them.

"There appeared to be indecent images of children on moving footage which showed the maker... had zoomed in on genitals, breasts and buttock areas of young people at a swimming pool."
So, several uniformed officers nabbed him as he got off the train.
The swimmers involved were later identified as aged over 18.
Ah, so, not children after all?
They were spoken to and although until then "completely unaware" of what happened, said they felt "distressed and violated", the court heard.
And who made them feel that way? The defendant, or the people that told them what the defendant was up to?

And since when did this kind of 'violation' get taken seriously? I'm pretty sure when the old Victorian explorers came upon remote tribes who viewed photography as 'taking their souls', it was regarded as a sign of how primitive they were; they never thought in their wildest dreams that one day their descendents would say 'Hey, maybe those tribes were on to something after all!'

There's no doubt whatsoever that Matthews is a skeezy perv, to use a technical term:
A search of Matthews' home uncovered a makeshift studio with lighting and other equipment and more than 600 pornographic films.

Mr Zinner said: "It all appeared to be consistent with the copying and making of porn material, some commercial, some home-made."
But does that really justify the waste of time and resources:
Matthews, who is unemployed, was given a 24-month supervision order, ordered to attend a sex offenders' rehabilitation course, banned from public swimming pools until 2012 and ordered to pay £300 prosecution costs.
Contrast this case with the one in the week of the two burglars pictured by a neighbour breaking into someone's home.

They stole £1,400 of belongings, had records as long as your arm, yet received only a suspended sentence (12 and 18 months) and supervision order, thanks to the utterly barmy decision that drug addicts should be spared jail.

Who is causing real harm here?

Now, I've no special love for the dirty mac brigade, and if one of the fathers of these 18 year olds caught him in the act of taking pics and decided to, shall we say, forcefully invite him to depart, fair dos.

But wasting criminal prosecution on one of the lookie loos while actual thieves, muggers, rapists and HoC expense fiddlers go free? Where are our priorities?


Anonymous said...

So exactly what 'crime' was he prosecuted for? Taking pictures without consent? Viewing said pictures? Are these things even crimes? Was it even proven that the pictures were taken 'secretly'? Are all videos taken without the consent of those filmed now illegal? Or does the use the video is put to (wanking in this case I suppose) create the illegality? If I had a weird fetish for people dressed as clowns, filmed some at a circus, and wanked over it, is that now a crime?

I assume if he had stood there watching with his own eyes, he couldn't be prosecuted for that (asked to leave maybe if his behaviour was iffy), so why is filming something you are entitled to watch illegal?

I get the impression with many of these cases (such as the man prosecuted for having sex with a bicycle in his own room (don't ask!), or the man prosecuted for taking a picture of a drunk girl in the street) that the main reason they get convicted is lack of decent legal representation. I suspect a good brief would tear the prosecution case to shreds.

Of course why they are charged in the first place is open to question as well.

Dr Melvin T Gray said...

I disagree, Julia. There are neither legal nor moral grounds for ignoring the actions of perverts and it is just as well they answer to proper consequences without any recourse to vigilante justice.

Umbongo said...

This man was doing no harm. He was looking at pictures the subjects of which would (we assume) have been happy to have taken by the local newspaper or by a TV network covering the event. After all, this was a public area in which the subjects were prepared to dress appropriately for swimming.

So Matthews likes pictures of 18+ year-olds in swimming gear - big deal. In my youth I enjoyed looking at pictures of Esther Williams: I still enjoy looking at pictures of nubile young ladies - or not-so-young ladies for that matter. What does that make me? In Dr Gray's world I am apparently a potential criminal pervert who should be subject to the full rigours imposed by the thought police. This is vigilante justice which offers some secret (and genuinely) perverted satisfaction to today's delators and is imposed and enforced by our official vigilantes viz an over-officious police "service" and the supine and stupid courts.

JuliaM said...

"Are these things even crimes?"

Hard to believe, isn't it?

"..the man prosecuted for having sex with a bicycle in his own room (don't ask!).."

Oh, I well remember that one! He was behind a locked door, as I recall...

"There are neither legal nor moral grounds for ignoring the actions of perverts..."

Actually, there are. The 'What harm' grounds.

What harm was he doing?

And if he is indeed a dirty old man, why should the courts target their scare resources to him?

"He was looking at pictures the subjects of which would (we assume) have been happy to have taken by the local newspaper or by a TV network covering the event."

Indeed. Or, perhaps, may have posted themselves to their FrontPage or MySpace page.

Edwin Greenwood said...

I always wondered about the details of the bicycle sex case. The crucial question being with which part of the bicycle did sexual interaction take place. No suitable orifices spring to mind, but then again I'm not really an expert on such matters.

Was the bicycle of the male (horizontal crossbar) or female variety? Did the bicycle give consent? If it was a child's bicycle or (heaven forfend) he had intercourse with a pram or baby buggy, would this count as paedophilia?

There are serious legal and moral issues here. I think we should be told.

JuliaM said...

"I always wondered about the details of the bicycle sex case."

Oh, he was an amateur...

Dr Melvin T Gray said...

Dear Umbongo,

Assume that overreaction brought complaint of the incident to the attention of police. Assume that the police investigation was flawed/incompetent. Let us also assume that CPS brought a vexatious prosecution to trial or simply wished to test such a case in the Courts. Continuing in this vein, we might even assume that the defendant's legal defense team had no idea what they were doing by advising a client to enter a guilty plea. Finally, we must assume that our judicial system is so defective and constrained that it would wrongly convict a defendant, irrespective of a whole catalogue of incompetence. This is the perspective from your world, Umbongo.

It seems far more likely that sufficient evidence merited a criminal prosecution and the defendant admitted an offence of outraging public decency in the face of evidence presented to his lawyers.

On your other point I can only agree that Nature gave man his urges. Civilization imposed a necessity upon men to keep the same under control.

Anonymous said...

Anything is a crime if the police decide it is.

That's the definition of a Police State, isn't it?

AntiCitizenOne said...

Shut this FILTH down now!

JuliaM said...

<>"Civilization imposed a necessity upon men to keep the same under control."<>

Or keep it behind locked doors. Which brings us back to Mr Lover Man and his Raleigh of choice, doesn't it...?

Did you happen to see the story in the papers this morning about the man arrested for photographing men enjoying alfresco sex? He'd asked the police to stop them but they did nothing.

I have a post coming, but my email ate it.

I'm just wondering why they should be protected (because they are 'vulnerable', apparantly) for doing far more than this man was watching on his laptop?

"Anything is a crime if the police decide it is.

That's the definition of a Police State, isn't it?"

Yes. Yes, it is...