Dismiss

Court security accused of allowing upskirt defendant to leave by secret exit to avoid press

Court security guards have been accused of giving preferential treatment to criminals after a man who admitted taking an upskirt photo of a woman was allowed to leave through a secret exit, avoiding photographers.

Neil Abbott, 32, darted back inside Westminster Magistrates’ Court when he emerged from the building on Friday and saw members of the press standing outside the main entrance waiting to take his picture.

Abbott, of Maxwell Road in Romford, east London, had pleaded guilty to a charge of outraging public decency after he took an upskirt picture of a woman as she queued for food on a night out.

Staff with security firm Mitie told the Press Association special measures were only allowed in rare circumstances, such as when a vulnerable witness was concerned about facing a suspect in court, and that any agreement had to be made beforehand.

But it transpired another security guard allowed Abbott to leave the building through a staff-only side door, which he said followed a request from the defendant concerned about “the press outside”.

Latest guidance from HM Courts and Tribunal Service says security “should only allow defendants to use a side entrance if you have been specifically advised to, on security grounds, by the police or the judge”.

Ian Murray, executive director at the Society of Editors, said it was unacceptable that staff should show favouritism to anyone attending court by providing them with a private exit, especially when they have been found guilty of serious crimes.

He said: “Far too often it seems court staff are siding with those accused of or are guilty of crimes, enabling them to avoid publicity by using entrances to court buildings that should not be available to the public.

“In this case it is even more alarming given the nature of the crime committed, if not ironic, that someone guilty of taking the most appalling photograph is then shielded from having their own photograph taken.

“I wonder what his victim thinks.”

Sarah Green, co-director of the End Violence Against Women coalition, said: “The prosecution of a man for ‘upskirting’ a stranger in a train station, following station staff action to apprehend the offender, is a welcome sign that this abusive behaviour is being taken seriously.

“The victim’s description of her distress and the impact of the crime is no surprise.

“But it appears the defendant was allowed to leave the court by a private exit, thus avoiding the media.

“This is contrary to the openness of our courts and should be investigated.

“If he was allowed to do this due to any sense of pity, or a view that the crime he has committed is trivial or not very harmful, then this is a strong reminder of why women find it so difficult to challenge and come forward about this kind of extremely invasive behaviour.

“We know that excuses will be made and others will see it as trivial. It is not.”

Mitie declined to comment when contacted by the Press Association.

Comments

1 thought on “Court security accused of allowing upskirt defendant to leave by secret exit to avoid press”

  1. Happened to me once at Basildon Crown Court. Just me and a photographer waiting outside, for a bloke I’d just seen sentenced for possessing thousands of indecent images of children. Security snuck him out the back. Couldn’t believe it.

    Also seen it happen at Southend Crown. They snuck a man who’d been selling fake medicine to cancer patients out of a back door so he’d avoid the photographers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *