Peeping Tom workman used telescope to spy on young women in student accommodation

Newcastle Crown Court.
Newcastle Crown Court.

A peeping Tom workman in Sunderland who used a telescope to spy through windows so he could watch women undress has kept his freedom.

Steven Elstob, from Jarrow, had been employed to carry out lift installation work at student accommodation in the city and found out that the building faced flats where he could see unsuspecting females getting changed.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 46-year-old kept hold of keys he had while carrying out the building work and used them later to let himself into a disused room and watch women through neighbouring windows.

He confessed he had travelled to the building so he could carry out the spying "ten to fifteen times" in the month before he was arrested.

Elstob, of Durham Drive, Fellgate, Jarrow, pleaded guilty to voyeursim and possessing a small amount of amphetamine found at his home after his arrest in April.

The court heard the police collared him when students living in the accommodation block spotted him going into an empty room and alerted the landlord.

He was arrested, with a telescope in his bag, and confessed he "got a kick" out of viewing the women who did not know they were being watched.

Prosecutor Emma Dowling told the court: "He accepted he had gone into the property with the intention of committing the offence of voyeursim.

"He accepted he had been committing the offence for some time and said the only reason he had gone into the flats was for his own sexual gratification.

"He had no legitimate reason to be in the premises.

"On the occasion he was arrested he said he had not committed the act because no-one was getting undressed at the relevant time but said he had done it for about a month before arrest."

Judge Robert Spragg said Elstob was a "sad man" and that the public would be better protected in the long term by him getting help to address his offending.

Elstob was sentenced to a community order for three years with programme requirements and ordered to sign the sex offenders register for five years.

The judge told him: "You admitted the telescope was to assist in your voyeursim and said you had done it ten to 15 times in the past 28 days."

The court heard Elstob had been told to leave the same building around six months earlier after being caught inside in "suspicious" circumstances.

Elstob lost his job as a result of his arrest in April.

Stuart Graham, defending, said other workers at the building had told Elstob, in a "joking" manner, about the women who could be seen through the windows.

Mr Graham said: "A few of the builders had come to this defendant and said 'if you look over there, you can see the girls getting dressed'.

"He kept the keys because he was told about it and thought 'I can come in and look'."

Mr Graham said Elstob has no previous convictions and has worked hard all of his life but struggled to maintain relationships.

He added: "If he could turn the clock back he would.

"If he could have anticipated it would have ended up like this he would not have got involved in this."