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Man sentenced for upskirting women in Hertfordshire supermarkets

|News, Sexual offences

A man who upskirted several women in a Baldock supermarket and secretly filmed a woman showering has today been sentenced to 39 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.

The sentence for 57-year-old Colin Hitch came after he pleaded guilty to one count of voyeurism and five counts of operating equipment under clothing to observe another without their consent at an earlier hearing in August.

On 17 June 2022, a woman shopping in Tesco supermarket in Baldock reported to a store manager and later to the police that she believed a man was using a phone in his shopping basket to record footage under her skirt. A review of CCTV footage from the store that day showed that same man, Hitch, taking similar footage of four other women.

When police searched through video footage on Hitch’s phone, they also found a video taken of a woman undressing and showering, seemingly without her consent, as well as over 900 video clips saved on memory sticks, the majority of which were upskirting.

In an interview with the police, Hitch admitted to secretly filming the woman in the shower and to regularly upskirting women in supermarkets in Baldock and Hemel Hempstead by placing his phone in his shopping basket.

Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Mamawai Conteh said: “Colin Hitch opportunistically filmed women without their consent or knowledge for his own gratification. Upskirting and voyeurism are serious crimes, and Hitch committed them while knowing what he was doing was wrong.

“He was caught out however when one shopper became suspicious and reported her concerns; thanks to her, Hitch’s illegal activities were uncovered, and we were able to present strong enough evidence that he had no choice but to plead guilty for his crimes.”

The Crown Prosecution Service’s national lead for stalking and harassment, Olivia Rose, said: “Feeling safe should not be a luxury for women. If someone exposes themselves, tries to take inappropriate pictures or makes you feel threatened on the street, these are crimes, and we will do all we can to support those who come forward.”

Notes to editors

  • Upskirting is taking a photograph or video under someone’s clothing without their consent and the perpetrator not reasonably believing consent had been given. It is done with the intention to humiliate, alarm or distress the victim or gain sexual gratification.
  • Colin Hitch (D.O.B. 17/02/1965) pleaded guilty to one count of voyeurism and five counts of operating equipment under clothing to observe another without their consent at a plea and trial preparation hearing at St Albans Crown Court on 30 August 2022. 
  • He was sentenced to 39 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for 12 months at the same court on 3 February 2023. A sexual harm prevention order was also imposed. 
  • Mamawai Conteh is a senior crown prosecutor for CPS Thames and Chiltern. 
  • Olivia Rose is a deputy chief crown prosecutor for CPS Thames and Chiltern and the CPS national lead for stalking and harassment.

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