Ross Harold Bell was sentenced to three years in prison. Picture: Laura Pettigrew.
Ross Harold Bell was sentenced to three years in prison. Picture: Laura Pettigrew.

Man, 73, filmed girl, women in bathroom

A 73-year-old father who "preyed upon the trust" of a girl and two women when he secretly filmed them in a bathroom will spend nine months behind bars.

Ross Harold Bell set up cameras to film two women and a child unrelated to him between July 2013 and March last year.

Crown prosecutor William Slack told the court it was a "blatant invasion of privacy and would affect the dignity and bodily integrity of these female complainants".

He said the young girl's breasts and genitalia were clearly visible in 22 of the 23 videos which showed her getting undressed, showering, and drying herself.

One of the women was filmed on 33 occasions, 24 of which showed her completely naked.

The other woman was recorded on one occasion while standing very close to the camera.

"It is clear that it has had a significant impact on both of those women," he said.

"One feeling that was of note in both of them was a feeling of being exposed and violated and that violation of human rights.

"It was a significant breach of trust … there is a degree of persistence in predatory conduct along with an aspect of premeditation which can be clearly seen in setting the camera up and there location in his computer."

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Mr Slack said police raided Bell's home in March last year.

The videos of the girl were organised in a different folder to the recordings of the older women.

The court heard 70 images and eight videos of cartoon characters, namely from the TV series The Simpsons, engaging in sexual behaviours and a written letter about an unknown 12-year-old girl having sex with her father were also found on Bell's computer.

Bell pleaded guilty in Maroochydore District Court on Monday to 23 counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16, 34 counts of observations or recordings in breach of privacy and one of possessing child exploitation material.

Mr Slack said a prison sentence of three years with actual time to be served would reflect the entirety of Bell's offending.

Defence barrister David James suggested two years in prison with eight months of actual time to be served would be suitable.

Mr James said a psychologist report concluded Bell suffered from a compulsive personality disorder, voyeuristic disorder and had symptoms of depression.

"The compulsive personality may have contributed to the length and number of counts of offending, but it doesn't provide any assistance to him in relation to the actual offending and particularly the premeditation and preparation," he said.

"It provides some explanation that suggests that once things started, he might have had some difficulty stopping."

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He said Bell never touched his victims or instructed them not to report.

"When looking at the number of offending there is some positives there that he hasn't ever escalated his form of offending," he said.

"He never moved to confronting someone in the showers or attempting to touch or isolate someone in that regard."

The court heard Bell had aspirational efforts of rehabilitation, had displayed genuine remorse and was a low risk of reoffending.

Judge Glen Cash said Bell's diagnoses didn't seem to reduce his responsibility for his actions in what he described as the "worst example" of recording in breach of privacy.

"The videos were found in two folders … that indicates to me there was some sorting of files which suggest a degree of planning and deliberation of what you did," he said.

"It had clearly been planned, you preyed upon the trust of your victims."

He said he considered Bell's lack of history, early plea of guilty, co-operation with police and form of offending and decided a period of actual imprisonment was appropriate.

"I'm satisfied in those circumstances that the only appropriate sentence to impose are ones that will involve a period of time actually in custody," he said.

Bell was sentenced to three years in prison to serve nine months.

The remainder of the sentence was suspended.