A PERVERT who secretly snapped naked men in a gym changing room sparking a national police manhunt after fleeing the country has been jailed.
Stuart Hamilton used his phone to take picures of unidentified males in the showers at the capital’s Virgin Active club before uploading some of the images onto Instagram.
Hamilton then attempted to contact one of the men he “found attractive” through a friend of the man he had managed to track down online.
But his friend soon became suspicious after Hamilton admitted to her he attended the same gym as her friend and “liked to see him naked”.
The woman then contacted her friend, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to inform him of Hamilton’s interest and police were soon called in to investigate.
The man was due to appear in court to face charges last September but he skipped the country leading cops to launch a massive hunt for him.
Police Scotland circulated CCTV images of 37-year-old Hamilton to the press and an appeal for his safe return was also issued.
He was eventually spotted in London by a work colleague and was brought back to Scotland to appear in court to face the indecency allegations in December last year.
Hamilton, from Gorgie, Edinburgh, pleaded guilty to taking photographs of naked and semi-naked men at the Virgin Active gym in Fountainbridge area of the city between February 2014 and July 2015 when he appeared at the city’s sheriff court.
He also admitted failing to appear at the capital court on September 23, 2016.
The man was jailed for 13 months and placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years when he appeared in the dock from custody.
Previously the court heard Hamilton and the victim were both longtime members at the popular gym and the man became aware his image had been uploaded to the internet following a chat with another gym member.
Depute fiscal Kim Schofield said: “The incident occurred within the changing rooms of Virgin Active. Around April 2014 the complainer was approached by another gym member who made him aware of an Instagram account under the name of RugbyLover79.
“That account had a number of pictures of famous rugby players. There was also a number of pictures of the complainer at the locus.
“One picture of the complainer was a profile of his body, naked while in the changing rooms.”
Ms Schofield said the man subsequently reported the matter to Virgin Active management but not to the police.
Ms Schofield added around one year later Hamilton then contacted a friend of the man through the What’s App messenger service stating he was gay and found their ‘mutual’ friend attractive.
The woman became “quite unnerved” by the pervert’s messages and contacted her friend who subsequently contacted police.
The fiscal said: “She managed to obtain a mobile number for the male [Hamilton] and in June 2015 the complainer attended the police station and provided a number for the accused.”
Investigations showed the mobile number led to Hamilton and it was confirmed he had been a member of the Edinburgh gym for around five years.
Hamilton gave a “full and frank admission” during the subsequent police interview and “indicated he had taken naked photographs of men at the gym without their knowledge”.
Police found the naked pics of the complainer and other photos of “unidentified males in their underwear, various stages of undress and in the showers”.
Hamilton then failed to attend court on September 23, 2015 after it emerged he had gone missing from his capital home.
The public campaign to trace him led cops to Manchester and then London and Hamilton was eventually picked up and appeared in court in December last year.
Yesterday, solicitor Robert Low, defending, told the court that his client’s actions were “out of character” and he had been going through a “particularly stressful time in his life”.
Mr Low added Hamilton had shown “remorse” and when he went missing had been “a risk to himself and others”.
Sheriff Thomas Welsh told Hamilton: “This is a very serious offence and was a gross invasion of privacy of various people who were photographed.
“In those circumstances only a custodial sentence is appropriate.”
Sheriff Welsh sentenced Hamilton to 13 months for the taking of indecent pictures and a concurrent sentence of four months for missing the court date.