| 17.07,19. 12:22 AM |
Sunshine Coast man charged with rape, sexual assault and recording women using 'spy cameras' in towel racks
Photo: A man faces 26 charges including rape, sexual assault and secretly filming women on the Sunshine Coast. (ABC News: Jacqui Street)
A 50-year-old man has been charged with rape and secretly recording a number of his female flatmates using hidden cameras, over the course of five years, at various addresses on the Sunshine Coast.
Police arrested and charged the man with 26 offences yesterday, including three rape charges, six charges of sexual assault, and 15 charges of recording women without their knowledge, which included four instances where he allegedly filmed women's genitals.
Police will allege the man used hidden "spy camera devices", which appeared to be regular household items like towel racks and hooks, inside bathrooms and other rooms at four properties on the Sunshine Coast between 2015 and 2019.
It is also alleged he raped a 23-year-old woman three times and sexually assaulted her six times and filmed it, while she slept at a Mountain Creek address.
"The victim was unaware of those offences happening to her until we were able to talk to her," Detective Senior Sergeant Daren Edwards said.
"We did recover recordings that he'd taken of those offences taking place, they're quite disgraceful acts.
"She was obviously very shocked that that had occurred to her and not known about; it's very disturbing."
According to police, the man was residing at properties at Eudlo, Bli Bli, Mountain Creek and Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast, when the alleged filming and rapes took place.
"In some instances he had been a renter in the houses along with the victims, and on other occasions he had just been temporarily living at someone's residence," Detective Senior Sergeant Edwards said.
"At this stage we can establish at one residence he had a spy camera device that appeared to be a towel rack and then there are other times where he has used some other device for filming.
"[On one occasion a camera] has been discovered, he was evicted, and those people made a report to police, which enabled police to make further enquiries with other residents in other locations."
The alleged victims ranged in age.
According to Detective Senior Sergeant Edwards, police seized a number of hard drives from the man's property, which enabled them to identify and make contact with other victims, but they believe there could be more, with some women in the footage still unidentified.
The 50-year-old was remanded in custody, with his case mentioned in the Maroochydore Magistrates Court this morning and listed for committal mention in September.
Hidden camera warning
Detective Senior Sergeant Edwards said the charges were particularly concerning, being the third case of a similar nature in the spotlight in recent weeks.
"We had another separate case at Palmview two weeks ago where victims managed to detect a camera inside a false smoke alarm in a bathroom," he said.
"They realised when an electrician working in the bathroom questioned why a smoke alarm was in a shower, where they are not usually placed, and he pulled it down and saw it had been velcroed to the roof and had a camera inside."
In a third case recently before the courts, a Sunshine Coast hinterland resident pleaded guilty to using hidden cameras to film four young male backpackers as they showered and slept at his property.
The police became aware of the case after one of the backpackers noticed an "unusual amount of light" in the shower and suspicious holes in the bedframes and cupboards in their living quarters.
Detective Senior Sergeant Edwards said the cases should act as a deterrent to other potential offenders, as "they'll end up getting charged and likely end up in jail".
He warned the public to be vigilant and take extra caution if they noticed something suspicious in a household or public place.
"Just take some extra time to look around a bathroom and different items on shelves and things," he said.
"Something might look a bit out of place on closer inspection, as they were in these cases.
"We've had this recent case going on for four years, then another two weeks ago, so we'd be naïve to think it hasn't happened before and isn't occurring still now."