A SEXUAL predator who secretly filmed women, girls and boys undressing in public changing rooms, using disabled toilets or lying naked on sunbeds has been jailed for 40 months.

Preston Crown Court heard William David Smith covertly filmed women and children undressing at Darwen Leisure Centre, using the disabled toilets changing rooms at the Trafford Centre, using sunbeds in Rawtenstall and Ramsbottom, and in wet rooms across Lancashire.

The court heard the majority of Smith’s offending, which spanned a four-year period, happened once he had been released on licence after serving time for filming a teenager showering without her knowledge.

The court heard the 31-year-old used a specially-adapted iPhone covered in black tape to secretly film under changing room cubicles and also removed vents at sunbathing shops to make room for his camera.

Prosecuting, Jon Close said that on more than one occasion Smith had inadvertently captured himself on his secret recordings, and could once be seen naked with his private parts at a sunbed shop.

Mr Close said although there were countless victims only one actually knew she had been filmed.

That was a 15-year-old girl who was using the changing village at Darwen Leisure Centre when she noticed Smith’s iPhone moving in between her cubicle and the adjoining one. She took out her own mobile phone and began filming the moving iPhone and reported the incident to centre staff, as well giving a description of the defendant.

Smith, who had given the fake name of William David to obtain a membership card, was traced from CCTV within the centre. The CCTV showed that Smith had been in the centre between 5pm and 7.15pm, mainly in the changing village and had not been swimming. Examination of his phone found 23 video clips, including one of the 15-year-old.

There were also seven videos of children in six separate clips, the youngest being six-years-old.  

Smith was subsequently arrested and police seized a number  of electronic devices from his home.

On one of those devices police found covertly filmed videos and images of women and children in various states of undress. 

Mr Close said there was a total of 167 images, most videos lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes. The images were recorded between 2015 and 2019, although no footage was recorded in 2016 when Smith was in Forest Bank Prison. 

Mr Close said: “The images capture covert recordings in different sunbed shops – almost all of which captured completely naked adult females – wet changing cubicles again capturing almost exclusively completely naked adult females, clothing store cubicles – capturing adult females in differing states of undress – and toilets – again capturing adult women using the toilet.  

Some of the video recordings captured more than one woman changing or using the toilet.

“There is one recording that was made outdoors, when the defendant managed to surreptitiously record an image by aiming the camera up an adult female’s skirt. Two of the recordings from the wet changing room captured children in a state of complete undress. One was a female aged approximately 13, the other an approximate 10-year-old boy.

“On some of the recordings the defendant inadvertently recorded his face. In one recording it was apparent that the defendant was completely naked as he recorded his private parts before then going on to surreptitiously record a naked adult female using the sunbed through what appears to be a hole in the wall.”

The court heard GPS data on Smith’s phone showed the sunbed cubicle videos – of which there were 92 and showed adult women unwittingly exposing their breasts  and buttocks – were filmed in Rawtenstall and Ramsbottom.

Mr Close said Smith had placed a camera behind the toilet in the disabled facilities in the Trafford Centre and had managed to record five videos of women pulling down their clothing and using the toilet.

In separate incidents in 2017 and 2019 he recorded a total of 10 videos and one still image of women using the changing facilities at shops in the Trafford Centre. Some were in their underwear and others were naked below the waste.

Smith recorded a further 64 videos in wet rooms in leisure facilities across the county, capturing his victims naked. His victims in those offences, included a 13-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy.

Smith, of Redearth Road, Darwen, pleaded guilty to 18 counts of voyeurism, two of attempted voyeurism and two of making indecent images of children.

Defending, Richard Prew, said his client accepted he needed help to address his offending.

He said: “He believes his self-esteem issues date back to high school. He had a facial disfigurement at birth which caused issues.

“It’s thrill-seeking behaviour for his own sexual gratification.

“He is starting to come to terms with his offending behaviour and the underlying reason why he does it.

“He would welcome the sex offender programme and continued help through the probation service.

“There is an element of remorse and he seeks to apologise through me to all the unwitting victims of his criminal actions.

“He is crying out for help. He is not an unintelligent young man.”

Describing Smith as a sexual predator who is is rehabilitation, Judge Beverly Lunt stopped short of classing him as a dangerous offender.

Judge Lunt said: “Mercifully for the victims not one of them has been identified or knows what you have done. None of these images have ever been published, shared or distributed.

“Anyone who is concerned by this case or the reports they may read should at least be reassured that once I make the order that I will to destroy the mobile phone then these images will cease to exist and can’t be obtained from anywhere else.”

Smith was made subject of a 10-year sexual harm prevention order, which banned him from entering or loitering outside any female-only facilities and declare any membership of spas or leisure facilities to police using his real name.

He was also put on the sex offenders’ register for life.