For over a year couples staying in a Whitby holiday cottage had their most intimate moments recorded by the Peeping Tom business owner.
Jonathan Waugh, the owner of the Easter Cottage holiday let in Hope Terrace, had set up covert recording equipment in the main bedroom of the cottage and would then play back the images on his wide-screen TV in a cottage he also owned opposite.
York Crown Court was told on Tuesday how the discovery of the surveillance-type equipment, disguised as an alarm clock, was made by a guest who had taken to the bed during the day after becoming ill.
As a result the guest and his wife were reported to have felt violated and their relationship to have suffered as a result of the “disgusting and depraved” actions of the holiday cottage owner.
Mr Waugh, a 52-year-old former broadcasting engineer, had previously pleaded guilty to two charges of voyeurism.
The cottage slept up to a family of five and the owner would charge up to £566 for a week’s holiday.
When Mr Waugh, of Huddersfield Road, Huddersfield, appeared he also asked the court to take into consideration six further offences of installing recording devises in Easter Cottage and six of making recordings.
Richard Gent, prosecuting told how Mr Waugh would check that it was couples who would be using the main bedroom of the three-star cottage before setting up the devise, which worked on a motion sensor, and would then meet and greet his guests in person.
A couple and their two children had booked the cottage between 7 and 11 November last year and everything seemed normal until the husband, a former investigator, was taken ill and retired to bed.
Mr Gent said that the husband noticed something unusual about the alarm clock and examined it to find a memory card installed inside.
He went to the police station with the item and when Mr Waugh was quizzed he made admissions that he had been “addicted” to pornography since his 20’s, had paid £600 for the equipment off the internet and had used it to record couples in the room for 13 months between October 2010 and November 2011.
He added that he had updated the equipment, which could record in the dark, with a larger memory card and watched the resulting visual and audio recordings for his own sexual gratification.
Rupert Dodswell, mitigating, said that his client was of previous good character and had been very anxious and depressed following the discovery of his offending.
He added that as a result his client had suicidal thoughts, but had also voluntarily been seeking help and treatment for his problems.
He asked the court not to send Mr Waugh into custody so that he could continue to receive help.
Jailing Waugh for 12 months, Recorder David Bradshaw also ordered that he be placed on the sex offenders’ register for ten years and subject for the same period to a Sexual Offences Protection Order.
This will restrict Mr Waugh’s further use of covert recording equipment and his ability to own and run a holiday let, unless the police have notification and access to check it out.