Blueshell worker admits installing hidden camera in workplace toilet

A man set up a hidden camera in a communal toilet at a mussel-farming business in Brae.

Robert Leask, 49, of Huxter in Whalsay, secreted a USB camera opposite the door of a toilet cubicle used by both male and female members of staff at Blueshell Mussels in Sparl.

He was caught after an image taken by the camera showed him trying to adjust its position as he was installing it.

The existence of the camera came to light when a female worker was washing her hands and spotted the small object under the sink, wedged in place with paper towels.

At first she was unsure what it was. She showed it to fellow members of staff, who agreed it resembled a computer memory stick.

It was only when it was reviewed on a computer that it became obvious it was a camera.

Leask was recognised as the person adjusting its position, although he initially denied any knowledge of it when questioned by police two days later.

At Lerwick Sheriff Court today, Leask admitted installing the camera within the toilet on 22nd February.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said Leask had offered no explanation as to why he had installed the camera.

Under police questioning he simply replied: “I don’t know.”

“The female employees involved were extremely upset by this,” said Mr MacKenzie. “Understandably, it’s an extreme invasion of their privacy and, indeed, a breach of trust amongst colleagues.”

Defence agent Tommy Allan declined to say anything in mitigation until background reports are compiled.

“Mr Leask has not been able to give me an explanation as to why he did this,” he said.

Sheriff Graeme Napier was intrigued to know if the camera was motion-sensored, meaning it would only be activated when people came into the toilet, but he was told it was set to record continuously.

The case was adjourned for background reports. However Leask was placed on the sex offenders’ register.

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A man who caused almost £40,000-worth of damage to a newly-built block of flats by setting fire to his bed in an attempt to kill himself was spared a prison sentence when he appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court.

Instead Douglas Preacher, 41, now of Ladies Drive, was placed on probation for one year and told to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

Preacher decided to end his life at his home in one of the new flats at Da Vadill on New Years Eve, after drinking 12 cans of lager alone. He poured lighter fuel on his bed and ignited it with a lighter.

But he was unable to tolerate the thick, black smoke and fled the room, calling the fire brigade as he left.

Sentence had been deferred until today for reports. Preacher has been maintaining contact with mental health professionals to help deal with his problems. He has also been teetotal since the incident took place.

“He seems to think he’s going to prison,” remarked Sheriff Graeme Napier after seeing background reports.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said it was the type of offence that would have “entitled” the sheriff to send Preacher to jail.

He said Preacher was ashamed and embarrassed by what he had done.

“Clearly it was in the context of he, at the time, attempting to take his own life. Almost immediately he sobered up and realised what he was doing,” said Mr Allan.

Preacher was criticised by the sheriff for failing to notify other residents and first-footers in the block of what was happening.

But Mr Allan insisted he had at least phoned the fire brigade. “Clearly he wasn’t thinking properly at the time.”

Sheriff Napier said the offence would have been much more serious, had it happened in the 19th century before the days of fire and smoke alarms.

He said he would not send Preacher to prison, as he had cost the taxpayer enough already.

“It [the building] was so new, that you caused a huge amount of damage. You will never be in a position to pay that back,” said the sheriff.

“I had considered sending you to custody, but all that would mean is the public would be paying your board and lodgings for the next 12 to 13 months.

“Given the damage you have already caused the public purse there would be some merit in you doing unpaid work.”

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A Lerwick man who brandished a knife and threatened to rape and kill his partner was spared a prison sentence when he appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court today.

Daniel Moore, 41, of Hoofields, had been warned he was facing jail after he admitted subjecting his victim to the “horrendous” ordeal at their house in Grostane.

Instead he was handed an 18-month supervision order and told to carry out 140 hours of unpaid work.

Moore attacked the woman as she prepared an evening meal. He took a six-inch bladed knife before brandishing it at her.

He held the point of the knife against her and drew it down the length of her body, injuring her.

His partner was initially too frightened to try to escape the house, for fear of what he might do to her.

She eventually fled in her night-clothes and went to the police station.

Police later caught up with Moore and arrested him.

Sentence had previously been deferred for reports.

The court heard there was no psychiatric explanation for the offence. Alcohol consumption had compounded Moore’s problems.

Sheriff Graeme Napier said Moore had “minimised” his involvement in the incident.

“He doesn’t seem to understand what impact that must have had on her,” he said.

However he recognised Moore was not considered to be at high risk of re-offending.

He told him: “This was a horrendous offence. My first notion was just to send you to custody, but bearing in mind the assessments that have been made I consider the appropriate way to deal with you is by a non-custodial sentence.”

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A woman who embezzled £800 while acting as a sole trustee of Scalloway Public Hall was fined £500 and ordered to pay back the money today.

Sandra Reynolds, 55, of Berry Road in Scalloway, became “overwhelmed” with her responsibilities after all other trustees stood down. She took the money to help her pay domestic bills.

At Lerwick Sheriff Court Reynolds admitted a reduced charge of embezzlement at the hall between April 2009 and January last year.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said Reynolds had treated the hall as a “personal fiefdom”.

“It’s fair to say there was a lack of any financial control over the management of the hall,” he said.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said Reynolds had struggled to keep up her responsibilities as the hall’s only trustee, but had got “bogged down” and “overwhelmed”.

Asked why she had not simply resigned, Mr Allan said: “I discussed it with her … and she said, ‘who would I resign to?’.”

She was open and honest about her actions when questioned by police.

He said the stigma had been difficult for Reynolds to deal with, and that she was ashamed of what she had done.

Reynolds had already repaid £200, and had brought with her a further £600 to help make amends.

The offence came to light following an investigation by charities regulator, OSCR.

But Sheriff Graeme Napier was “astounded” she had been able to act as a sole trustee.

He told her: “I appreciate you feel you were put upon, and had to carry on in some way, but the option was available for you to say ‘I can’t carry on’. This was a significant breach of trust with funds that were to be made available for everyone using the Scalloway Public Hall.”

Fining her, the sheriff also ordered that she pay her outstanding £600 in compensation.

A new hall committee has since been formed.


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