13 April 2021

Child sex offender who hid cameras to spy on people in bathrooms jailed

| Albert McKnight
ACT Law Courts

Geoffrey Robert Appleby has been jailed over child sex offences. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A child sex offender who downloaded material showing 600 different children being abused also used hidden cameras to spy on up to 16 people in a bathroom.

Geoffrey Robert Appleby, 45, admitted he obtained the sickening photos and videos, as well as used the concealed camera. He was sentenced in the ACT Supreme Court on Friday (9 April).

According to the agreed facts in the case, Appleby downloaded 2880 videos and 650 images from a website in October 2019, with the majority found to be child abuse material.

Police searched his home in August 2020 and found the child abuse material on his laptop and in a secure folder on his mobile phone.

Victims ranged in age from about two months old to 15 years of age.

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When police looked through his devices they also found videos of up to 16 men and women, adults and children using a toilet and shower in two different bathrooms.

They searched one of the bathrooms and found a hidden camera inside an electronic clock angled towards the toilet and shower.

He told police over the last couple of years he had been “following interests in all manner of pornography and different sexual things … exploring the more taboo side of things”.

He said he was not looking for child abuse material, but “wasn’t surprised that there’d be child stuff” in the file he downloaded.

Appleby also said downloading child abuse material was part of fantasy role play, that he was never interested in actually doing things with children and that he felt bad for the children in such imagery.

Justice Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson said five of the people he spied on gave victim impact statements and it was clear “each of the victims were deeply impacted by the offending”.

“It was submitted, and I accept, that this has in turn, caused disruption in other aspects of life for the victims, including their relationships and their education,” she said.

“A number of the victims have sought treatment from a psychologist or counsellor as a result of these offences.”

Appleby 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. He faced a maximum sentence of 15 years.

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Appleby has worked in the IT industry in positions that often required a security clearance, so thought he was unlikely to find jobs in similar roles due to the nature of his offending.

Justice Loukas-Karlsson took into account his early guilty plea and sentenced him to two years and nine months’ jail, backdated to the time of his arrest.

He will be released from jail in February 2022 after 18 months and he will be placed under supervision until 2024.

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