Computer-bug peeping tom walks free

Mid Devon Star: Andrew Meldrum leaving Woolwich Crown Court, London where he was handed a 12-month suspended sentence and a fine for spying on women after bugging their computers. Andrew Meldrum leaving Woolwich Crown Court, London where he was handed a 12-month suspended sentence and a fine for spying on women after bugging their computers.

A "jealous" peeping tom who spied on women after bugging their computers has walked free from court.

Pervert Andrew Meldrum, 30, secretly installed spying software on their computers, allowing him to access private, nude pictures taken covertly.

In one case, he conned his victim into believing he could help solve her computer problems. But the goodwill gesture was a ruse for his deviant fetish and he was able to remotely access her webcam.

One of his victims wept in court and held her head in her hands as Meldrum was handed a 12-month suspended sentence and a fine.

Meldrum, previously of Crosslet Vale in Greenwich but more recently of Lewisham Hill in Lewisham, south London, admitted three counts of unauthorised access to computer material and was found guilty of two counts of voyeurism after a trial at Woolwich Crown Court.

Sentencing, Recorder Mark Heywood QC described the former Goldsmiths University student as "jealous and controlling".

He said: "It's clear from the evidence that many, many, many recordings were made by the computers of the three young women... concerning the most private acts in their own homes."

The court heard that around 11,000 images were taken covertly, including some of one victim naked, in her underwear, on the toilet and "in positions of intimacy".

The judge handed Meldrum sentences of 12 months each for voyeurism, and six months for each count to which he pleaded guilty, all of which to run concurrently.

Meldrum's criminal activity remained undetected for 15 months until the women - who cannot be named for legal reasons - discovered the programme had been installed on their computers.

The judge said Meldrum pursued his plot for his own "personal sexual gratification".

He said: "They did involve a degree of sophistication. This software is not readily used.

"You abused their confidence. This course of offending showed persistence and a degree of premeditation."

Meldrum was told to forfeit his computer and pay a contribution to prosecution costs of £2,100, plus a £100 victim surcharge.

Prosecutor James Vine said Meldrum exercised a "significant degree of planning".

He said Meldrum, wearing a black suit, white shirt and dark tie in the dock, made contact with one of his victims as the police investigation tightened.

Mr Vine told the court: "He said 'Please don't call the police'.

"He wiped the computer because he knew they (police) were coming."

Defending, Shila Whitehead said the volume of images was not under her client's control as the software automatically saved an image every two seconds.

She said a psychological report identified Meldrum had "issues" but that he could be paranoid.

She told the court he was remorseful - a comment which drew mutterings from one of Meldrum's victims who was weeping in the public gallery.

A Met Police spokesman said: "I would like to thank all witnesses in this investigation but especially the three victims who gave evidence on matters that were clearly of a private, intimate and personal nature to them. Meldrum effectively hacked into their lives.

"I hope that they can take some consolation in the guilty verdict that sends out a clear message to anyone that this type of intrusion into a person's private life is not acceptable and the Metropolitan Police will support all victims and pursue all suspects."

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