Hadleigh clergyman caught filming man in toilet had 600 similar images on phone, court hears

Norwich Crown Court.
Norwich Crown Court.

A married clergyman from Hadleigh who was caught filming a young man in a public toilet had nearly 600 similar images on his phone, a court heard yesterday.

The Very Reverend Martin Thrower, 56, was spotted holding the mobile phone over the top of a cubicle, before it was grabbed from his hand.

The man alerted security staff and Thrower was arrested at the Buttermead Shopping Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk.

Thrower is a rector of Hadleigh with Layham and Shelley, a position he has held since 2009.

He has pleaded not guilty to two charges of voyeurism on the basis that he admits filming men in toilets, but denies getting sexual gratification for doing so.

Opening the case at Norwich Crown Court yesterday, prosecutor William Carter said: “The prosecution say this man plainly has a sexual interest in other men in the toilet.”

The jury were told how Thrower was caught filming the young man while he was in the next cubicle at the toilets in the Buttermarket Shopping Centre.

The man had seem someone holding a mobile phone over the top of the cubicle.

He then reached up and grabbed the phone from the hand that was holding it, which was Mr Thrower’s.

Mr Carter said the young man was shocked and upset.

He dressed and left the cubicle and moved to the one next to him.

Mr Carter said: “He wanted to know what on earth the person was playing at filming him as he went to the loo.”

In a police interview, Thrower told an officer his interests in filming men in toilets was not sexual.

When asked how long he had been doing it, he said since about 2014.

Mr Carter said: “He said he didn’t confine this activity to the Buttermarket Shopping Centre. He would go to other places as well - supermarkets, service stations - that sort of thing.

“He said he had not been in the least sexually aroused by the experience.”

The court was told when Thrower’s mobile phone was looked at by police there were 589 still images of individuals in adjoining toilet cubicles.

Some of the images had been taken from underneath the compartment, and about 50 images were taken from above the toilet.

The jury heard Thrower was in the habit of going into public toilets to de-stress and play solitaire on his phone.

Mr Carter said: “He said he had a stressful couple of years and found that being in lavatory cubicles helped him.

“He said it was somewhere he could go for a bit of peace and quiet, and somewhere where he would not be troubled with matters of work.

“He said he would play solitaire on the phone and the interest would start as to who was sitting in the next door cubicle and matters went from there.”

The jury were told the offences took place on or before August 4, 2016.

Thrower denies two counts of voyeurism.

The trial, which is expected to conclude later this week, continues.