Ex-Marine jailed for spying on changing rooms

Edinburgh Sheriff Court
Edinburgh Sheriff Court
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A FORMER Royal Marine commando who covertly filmed female colleagues taking their clothes off in a changing room has been jailed for 22 months.

John Sharp, 48, was working as a porter in the Bruntsfield area of Edinburgh when he installed hidden cameras in a room there.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how Sharp - who was jailed for four years in 2001 for abusing two children - recorded the women stripping out of their uniforms.

He stored the illicit footage on a home computer and was snared after police arrived at his home to investigate whether he had a child porn stash.

The court heard how detectives discovered explicit images of children being abused and films of his co workers in various states of undress.

The story emerged after Sharp, of Craigour Green, Edinburgh, pleaded guilty last month before Sheriff Donald Corke to possessing child pornography and breaching the Sexual Offences Act.

Sentence had been deferred until Wednesday in order for the court to obtain reports about Sharp’s character.

After hearing how Sharp had felt traumatised after leaving the Royal Navy, Sheriff Corke told him he had no other option but to send him to jail.

Sheriff Corke added: “Custody is inevitable.”

It is not the first time that Sharp has been convicted of sexual offences. In November 2001, the former squaddie was jailed for four years at the High Court in Edinburgh for abusing two little girls and having a massive computer library of child porn.

Cops found 7,400 images stored on his computer including distressed children in sex and bondage scenes.

Judge Lord Marnoch jailed Sharp after he admitted indecency against the girls and making indecent images of children.

Last month depute procurator fiscal Karon Rollo told Edinburgh Sheriff Court that police received a tip off in July 2012 that Sharp may have been downloading child porn.

Ms Rollo told the court that they turned up at his house unannounced and he allowed them to search a laptop that he owned.

Officers discovered a total of 889 images and two films that showed children being abused. The cops also discovered that Sharp had installed software which could have destroyed evidence that he had looked at the sickening images.

Ms Rollo said: “Upon further examination officers had discovered that the accused had installed an eraser application. This could have removed information from the hard drive.”

Ms Rollo also told the court that officers then discovered another set of films on his computer.

Ms Rollo added: “These videos were recorded covertly. They depict female members of staff changing in and out of their uniforms.“

The court heard that the women - who cannot be named for legal reasons - had no idea they were being filmed.

Police then discovered that the films were recorded secretly at Sharp’s workplace.

Ms Rollo added: “The accused worked at the hotel two nights a week as a porter. He was then dismissed from his position.”

The court heard that Sharp was then arrested.

On Wednesday, the court heard how the author of the report into Sharp’s background concluded that he had anger management issues and treated other people with contempt.

Defence solicitor Nigel Beaumont told the court that his client had been traumatised as a consequence of his time in the Royal Marines.

Mr Beaumont also said that when he had also witnessed people being sexually abused as a youngster.

Mr Beaumont added: “His time in the Royal Marines had a significantly unpleasant effect on him.”

Sheriff Corke also placed Sharp on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.