A high-ranking Royal Marine has been convicted of voyeurism for sliding a mirror under a swimming pool cubicle – to SPY on a little girl.
Lieutenant Colonel Russell Paul, 53, tried to watch the 11-year-old as she took off her bikini top after a swimming session.
But as she slipped off she looked down and saw a mirror poking out from underneath the next cubicle, Plymouth Crown Court heard.
The frightened youngster saw an eye staring up at her in the reflection and she and a friend ran to tell staff at the city’s Life Centre pool and leisure complex.
Bosses looked at CCTV and found footage of Paul emerging from the neighbouring cubicle moments after the girl had fled.
Paul told police he went swimming for 45 minutes, then showered and left, but cameras showed him in the water for just seven minutes.
Officers searched his room at his base and found a bag containing 22 pairs of women’s knickers though Paul said they were a secret Santa present from seven years ago.
They also examined his home computer and found Google search terms which revealed “an interest in young girls, teen and pre-teen”.
Llewellyn Sellick, prosecuting, told the court the girl spotted Paul spying on her on June 4 last year as she changed.
He said: “She saw an eye reflected in the mirror. She covered herself with a towel and left the cubicle.”
Adrian Chaplin, defending, said Paul had a “very good career” and wanted to “apologise to the victims that his actions caused the upset that it did”.
Sentencing, Recorder Simon Levene said the two young girls were left frightened by their ordeal and would not forget it for a long time.
He told Paul that “certain members of society” such as “marines – and judges amongst them, who when they do something wrong draws the attention not only to themselves but to their profession. That’s something you’re going to have to live with.”
Paul, of Taunton, Somerset, was handed a community order with three years worth of supervision and ordered to pay #1,600 court costs and a #60 victim surcharge.
A Royal Navy spokesman said afterwards: “The service will now consider the effect of his conviction on his career.
“Any administrative action is a private matter between employee and the employer.”