LONDON, ONT. - In his mind, there was nothing wrong with taking secret videos of people in varying stages of undress.
Jeffrey Adam Paul, who pleaded guilty of 33 counts of voyeurism Friday, filmed friends and strangers, mostly women, for two years and kept the videos on his computer .
He didn’t share them, but when police found them on his computer, some had been slowed and looped so Paul could watch the women over and over.
“I can’t find the words to say how sorry I am for what I put people through,” Paul told Judge Ted McGrath, adding he is “a better person than this.”
Paul, 27, an independent real estate broker in London, Ont., was sentenced to 90 days.
While his defence lawyer, Murray Neilson, stressed how remorseful Paul is, his conduct was shocking.
In the early months of his habit, he secreted the cameras in the bathroom of his house, where he runs his business. One of the victims was a client.
Then he branched out to friends’ homes, sneaking cameras into bathrooms during house parties and celebrations.
Paul stepped it up another notch at a tanning salon he frequented, balancing himself on a chair and aiming the camera over the wall where he knew women would be taking off their clothes.
Twenty-one people, almost all women, were in the videos.
It was at the tanning salon where two women caught him and his camera in April 2011, leading to a police search of his computer. Only some of the 13 women filmed at the tanning salon were identified, assistant Crown attorney Jennifer Swart said.
The rest of the victims, except one female friend who testified at the sentencing hearing that she has forgiven Paul, were shown themselves either undressed for the tanning bed, or while using the bathrooms.
Paul, who lost his friends, girlfriend and job, had no criminal record and Neilson told McGrath that the actions seemed completely out of character for the quiet, polite Paul.
The cameras, Neilson said, had been bought for mountain biking and snowboarding. Once he started making the videos, Paul rationalized that what victims didn’t know, wouldn’t hurt them.
“Jeffrey realizes now what he put those people through,” Neilson said.
Paul had been an honours student despite an absent, drug-addicted, alcoholic mother. He lives with his father, Douglas, who testified that “being proud of Jeffrey is easy.”
The father had no idea of Paul’s secret obsession.
“He has hung his head in shame, total, total shame. He’s disgusted with himself,” the father said.
Paul independently sent a letter of apology to all his friends and produced an Internet video, shown in court, to warn of the dangers of secretly filming people.
Swart said Paul’s assertion that he didn’t know what he was doing was criminal made no sense.
“He certainly knew it was wrong when he was doing it,” she said, because he was hiding the cameras and telling no one.
Nine victim impact statements filed with the court told of victims’ trauma and shame, McGrath said. He ordered Paul not to communicate with victims, except his forgiving friend.
While noting that Paul tried to make amends for his “dastardly deeds,” McGrath said the “sense of violation” and the “betrayals” called for a jail sentence, not just to punish Paul, but also to send a message to the community.
Paul has been in counselling and McGrath ordered that he get more during his two-year probation, plus provide a DNA sample.