April 2012

Voyeur jailed for 22 years on six counts of rape of teenagers

A Street man accused of being a Peeping Tom has been jailed for 22 years for six offences of rape and six of indecent assault on teenaged girls over a nine-year-period.

During a five-day trial, Taunton Crown Court heard spy holes were found in a bathroom ceiling and girls suspected 53-year old John Hand, of Portland Road, was watching them in the bath.

Prosecutor Iain Fenny said Hand’s wife had “an almost obsessive interest” in ensuring girls staying in the house had a bath and two visitors heard him go into the attic while they used the bathroom. “He was a Peeping Tom and was looking at these girls,” he added.

He indecently assaulted one girl when she was about 12 and then turned to raping her on an almost-weekly basis.

The incidents took place at Hand’s former home in Shepton Mallet and at Brixham, Devon.

A second girl was indecently assaulted from the age of 14 and offences against both victims continued until they were about 17.

Hand, who had no criminal record of sexual abuse, told the jury the indecent assaults and rapes never happened.

He said the holes in the ceiling were there when they first moved into the house and he filled them with tissue.

He denied trying to look at anyone through them and said he went to the attic three or four times a week when suffering from migraine.

A camera found in the bathroom was installed so he could watch his wife having a bath. It was “something between me and her” and was used only about twice, he added.

Sharron Hand, 49, said it was “the most devastating news” and “unbelievable” when an alleged victim told her “John has been messing with me”.

“If I had seen any signs of abuse I would have told the police immediately. I would not have condoned such behaviour with a child”, she added.

Asked about holes in the bathroom ceiling, she said three were in the corner when they moved into the house and were all filled in within a year.

A camera had been placed behind a bath panel because she and her husband had decided to do “some sex role play” and he “likes to look at me in the bath”.

Hand was ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.