Suffolk priest caught filming men in public toilets
A Suffolk clergyman who was convicted in August 2017 on charges of being a “Peeping Tom” has been suspended from the ministry of the Church of England for seven years. The Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich announced this week the Very Rev. Martin Thrower, rector of Hadleigh in Suffolk, was stood down as rector following his arrest in August 2016 and suspended from the ministry in October 2017 after an internal church investigation.
Thrower pled guilty to two counts of voyeurism. The court heard the 56 year old clergyman had secretly filmed a 17-year old boy using a toilet in a shopping mall in Ipswich. The victim said he was seated on the toilet when he saw a hand with a camera appear under partition. He then grabbed the camera. A police investigation identified the owner of the camera and found several hundred other images taken in public toilets over a period of several years.
In remarks from the bench before sentencing, Judge Katharine Moore of the Norwich Crown Court said: “It seems to me that there has been a tendency throughout to attribute this persistent behaviour over a two-year period to a breakdown in your mental health. I accept without reservation that you were working very hard. I accept without reservation that you felt under great strain.”
However, “I do not accept that your actions here though were anything other than an exercise of free choice repeated again and again when you thought you could get away with it in public lavatories,” she said according to a 2017 report in the Telegraph.
A diocesan spokesman said Thrower could apply for reinstatement, but would have to undergo a safeguarding risk assessment before he returned to the pulpit.