18 March 2021

Child sex offender used hidden camera to spy on women in bathroom

| Albert McKnight
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ACT Law Courts

Geoffrey Robert Appleby has admitted he spied on women in bathrooms. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A confessed child sex offender has admitted he downloaded “truly abhorrent” images and spied on women when they were in the bathroom.

Not only did 45-year-old Geoffrey Robert Appleby download over 3500 files of child abuse material from the internet, but he also kept videos and photos he took of women using the toilet and shower in two different bathrooms.

According to court documents, the Higgins man downloaded 2880 videos and 651 photos of child abuse material from a website in October 2019.

Police discovered the files when they searched Appleby’s home in August 2020.

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On a phone and on a computer, police also found recordings and photos of women using the toilet and bathroom.

Police said in one of the bathrooms, Appleby had installed a hidden camera in an electronic clock angled towards the toilet and shower.

He pleaded guilty to three charges relating to possessing or accessing child abuse material and 15 counts of capturing visual data in an invasion of privacy.

Appleby, a large, bespectacled man with a long beard and greying hair, spent over seven months in custody before appearing in the ACT Supreme Court on Wednesday (17 March).

He sat in the courtroom’s dock while Justice Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson described the case as “truly abhorrent”.

“I think it is recognised by everybody in this courtroom how objectively serious these matters are,” she said.

Prosecutor Imogen Thomas said it was important not to lose sight of the invasion of privacy offences due to the number of victims and harm they had caused.

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Appleby’s barrister Alyn Doig from Canberra Chambers described his client as “a work in progress” when speaking about the need for rehabilitation, and while his client acknowledged he had to be punished for his crimes, he had been taking “remarkable steps” to begin rehabilitation.

Mr Doig said while in the Alexander Maconochie Centre, Appleby had taken a course in health hygiene and barista work, and he had family support.

Ms Thomas agreed Appleby had taken some steps to rehabilitation which should be encouraged, but she said general deterrence was paramount when considering child abuse material offences and that jail was the only appropriate sentence.

Justice Loukas-Karlsson said she would hand down her sentence on 30 March.

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