April 2013

Drama teacher filmed girls using the bathroom through two-way mirror in a secret den he set up at home for TEN YEARS

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An assistant headteacher secretly filmed schoolgirls using the bathroom through a two-way mirror in his home over a period lasting almost 10 years, a court heard.

Russell Singleton, 57, set up a secret den behind a false wall in his airing cupboard so he could act as a peeping tom.

The married man, who was a popular and highly-regarded teacher with 35 years experience, would give girls soft drinks when they visited his home so they would make regular trips to the bathroom.

Nottingham Crown Court heard he would secretly film them from a wall cavity between the bathroom and the airing cupboard which was big enough for him to fit into.

The teacher fitted a camcorder, which was placed on a shelf and trained on the shower and toilet, with a remote sensor allowing him to operate it when he wasn’t there.

Singleton’s wife had no idea he had set up a ‘sophisticated system’ to covertly film the students in their detached home behind the two-way mirror.

Pupils would regularly come round for production rehearsals and after-show parties.

He also filmed other female victims that weren’t pupils of his, including ex-students and a teacher.

The court heard Singleton, of Heanor, Derbyshire, amassed a haul of 24 videos of nine different females using the bathroom. Detectives also found 366 similar images on his mobile phone.

He was jailed for 38 months after admitting a string of sexual offences.

Avik Mukherjee, prosecuting, said the victims were left ‘disgusted, confused, violated and betrayed.’ 

The incident left one teenage girl so traumatised that she attempted suicide.

Judge Michael Stokes QC, sentencing, said: ‘What is particularly concerning is, having filmed these girls and recording what they were doing, he would see them the very next day in school.

‘It poisons the atmosphere and, in his secretive little mind, he was teaching girls that he had filmed naked in the shower the previous day.’

At an earlier hearing, the judge told Singleton: ‘This was carefully planned and pre-meditated. It is very serious because of the length of time offending happened and the degree of planning and repetition involved.’

Singleton was assistant head, and head of the arts and drama department at Alfreton Grange Arts College, formerly known as Mortimer Wilson Secondary School, in Derbyshire when the offences occurred.

The hearing was told he was a ‘talented, enthusiastic and effective teacher who engendered feelings of loyalty, affection, and respect in the numerous pupils who had passed through the school.’

Singleton was so trusted by colleagues and parents that pupils were allowed to stay over for drama rehearsals and post-production parties.

But for nearly a decade, he took advantage of the trust placed in him. The court heard that on one recording of a 13-year-old girl in his bathroom, Singleton could be heard breathing heavily.

He was caught out when police searched his home last year after a teenage student admitted to another teacher she and Singleton were having an affair.

Mr Mukherjee said: ‘They found set up in a partition between the bathroom and airing cupboard a big enough space for him to be in and a camcorder set up which enabled him to record things live.

‘It involved a high degree of planning and had gone on for a considerable length of time.’

After his arrest, Singleton admitted he was interested in ‘voyeurism’, and admitted he had filmed the pupils for his own sexual pleasure.

But he claimed they were ‘victimless’ because they did not know were being recorded.

Singleton admitted nine counts of taking indecent photographs of children, two of making indecent photographs of children, and three charges of voyeurism.

The offences related to children aged 13 to 17 years and adults between 18 and 24 years, and dated from 2003 to 2012.

Singleton also pleaded guilty to seven charges of sexual activity when he was in a position of trust, an offence which involved a pupil when she was aged 16 and 17.

Mark Watson, defending, said Singleton’s wife of 31 years had been ‘completely unaware’ of his actions. He added that she had been left ‘devastated’ – but was standing by him.

Mr Watson also told the court: ‘His fall from grace has been complete. His reputation is destroyed.

‘He faces humiliation. The consequences for him go beyond a prison sentence.’

Mr Watson claimed Singleton, who has been sacked from his job, hadn’t deliberately built a secret department, and a plumber had suggested the partition wall in the airing cupboard to hide unsightly pipes.

In a statement, Alfreton Grange Arts College said: ‘We were shocked, surprised and dismayed when we learned of the behaviour of this former member of staff.

‘The charges follow a lengthy police investigation with which the school has cooperated fully. We take the safety and interests of our pupils very seriously when they are at school and in our care.’

March 2013

Derbyshire teacher filmed girls in bathroom with secret camera

An experienced teacher filmed girls and women using a hidden camera in his bathroom in a “sophisticated” operation over 10 years.

Russell Singleton, of Heanor, Derbyshire, admitted 21 sex offences including voyeurism and sex with a teenager while in a position of trust.

The 56-year-old taught in Alfreton and admitted the catalogue of offences at Nottingham Crown Court.

Police described it as a careful, planned operation.

Singleton was a music and drama teacher at Alfreton Grange Arts College, previously Mortimer Wilson Secondary School, where he worked for 35 years.

His activities came to light after a 16-year-old complained to police about sexual activity with him.

‘Abuse of trust’

Police discovered a false wall in his bathroom with a two-way mirror hiding a camera which recorded girls and women using the toilet or shower.

He amassed a haul of 24 videos of women and girls and several hundred pictures over the last 10 years, starting in 2003.

After the case, Det Sgt Toby Fawcett-Greaves said: “This has been a sophisticated and pre-planned way of obtaining indecent images of children for his own sexual gratification which is a clear abuse of his position of trust.”

Singleton pleaded guilty to seven charges of sexual activity when he was in a position of trust; nine of taking indecent photographs; two of making indecent photographs and three charges of voyeurism where he has recorded females for his own sexual gratification.

Singleton, of Lawn Close, Heanor, was suspended from his job and has since been dismissed by the school which said it was shocked and dismayed by his behaviour.

He will be sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court on 22 April and was warned he faces a lengthy jail term.