Man guilty of upskirting photos spared jail after losing job and having mental health issues | UK News
A businessman who hid from press photographers after admitting he took “degrading” upskirt pictures of a young woman has been spared jail.
Neil Abbott, 32, said his life had been turned upside down – he lost his job, had mental health issues and was no longer able to afford to get married or buy a house – following his conviction.
After pleading guilty to one charge of outraging public decency at Westminster Magistrates’ Court last month, on Tuesday he was given a 280-hour community service order, told to pay £1,000 in compensation to the victim, given a rehabilitation activity requirement, and ordered to pay an additional £170 in costs and surcharges.
During sentencing, district judge Vanessa Baraitser said: “I have no doubt this was a serious, unpleasant and deliberate offence.
“It was quite clearly degrading to the victim. She was quite clearly distressed and repulsed by your behaviour.”
He was only spared jail because of his early guilty plea and his previous good character, the judge said.
Abbott, of Maxwell Road in Romford, East London, was on a drunken night out with friends last summer when he pushed through a queue and brazenly took a picture up a woman’s skirt at Liverpool Street station in central London.
He was seen jumping the queue at the Mi Casa Burritos shop to take the picture of the 20-year-old victim, who was wearing a short denim skirt, prosecutor Simon Maughan said.
A male witness said: “He (Abbott) took his phone from his pocket and proceeded to take a picture underneath her skirt.
“He wasn’t rushing, it was almost like he had done it before.”
When the eyewitness told the woman, she alerted station staff, and they apprehended the drunken Abbott, who later told police he would delete the pictures to avoid the matter being taken any further.
The court heard more than 30 other upskirting pictures were later found on his phone as well as images he had downloaded from the internet rather than take himself.
In a short police statement, the victim said: “I did not give permission for anyone to take the image.
“I feel repulsed by these actions.”
Defending, Kerrie Rowan said Abbott was paying the price for what he described as the “dumbest decision” of his life.
She said: “These proceedings have had a significant detriment to his mental health to the point of illness.”
She said he was supported at court by his girlfriend of nearly three years, and was from a tight-knit family who were “involved in the church, sporting clubs and the scouts”.
“He has serious concerns about his ability to secure work in the future,” the defence counsel said.
“His family and friends described it as a ‘relapse of judgement from somebody who otherwise has everything going for him’.”
Previously the court heard Abbott, a Loughborough University graduate who spent eight years working as a project manager in banking and finance before setting up his own business a year ago, found upskirting photos “attractive” and had shown genuine remorse for his actions.
Wearing a blue suit, white shirt and tie, Abbott looked down and then nodded as he was sentenced.
HM Courts and Tribunals service has launched an investigation after Abbott persuaded court security to allow him to leave the building through the staff exit during his previous appearance last month to avoid press cameras.