June 2021: Found dead following a fire at his home

June 2014

Leisure centre Peeping Tom sentenced for child abuse after victims read of his crimes in the press

Steven McGowan

Steven McGowan jailed for another five years as a result of two victims coming forward.

Press reports of a Peeping Tom’s conviction for spying on girls at a swimming pool led to him being reported to police for child abuse.

Steven McGowan was today jailed for another five years as a result of two victims coming forward.

He molested two underage schoolgirls, plying one with alcohol and cannabis and showing her adult video material, a court was told.

The 40-year-old was already serving a two-year sentence for taking, making and possessing indecent photographs of children.

The sentence was imposed by Teesside Crown Court in September last year, exposing his secret “addiction” and attraction to children.

The court heard how he slipped a mobile phone under the partition wall to take pictures of two young girls in a changing cubicle at Splash swimming baths, inStockton.

This led police to find 5,200 child abuse images on computer equipment in his home in May 2012.

A young woman reported him to police after she saw reporting of this case in the press, said prosecutor Shaun Dodds today.

She told how McGowan abused her several years ago, when she was in her teens.

He groomed her, giving her vodka and cannabis, buying her underwear and asking her to sleep in his bed, which she declined.

She was scared during McGowan’s repeated sexual assaults on her.

The second victim was also in her teens when McGowan touched her intimately, with another child present at the time.

She recalled one painful assault, saying she was scared to react in case he might hurt her more.

He was on bail at the time for the indecent pictures charges, and he was not supposed to have unsupervised access to children.

When arrested, he said he had a bad memory but accepted the assaults “must have happened”.

He gave “ludicrous explanations” for some of the attacks, claiming he was asleep at the time and touched a girl accidentally, added Mr Dodds.

The two victims told in statements how the crimes led to stress, anxiety, flashbacks, panic attacks, shame, embarrassment, self-harm, fear going out, medication and counselling, and affected a relationship.

McGowan, of Acklam Road, Thornaby, admitted six sexual assault charges.

He made “excuses” for his actions in a pre-sentence report, said Peter Wishlade, defending.

He said McGowan pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, sparing the victims having to give evidence, and accepted he’d receive a long sentence.

He said McGowan’s own children said they had good, fun lives with their dad.

“He, by reason of this behaviour, has effectively lost those children,” added Mr Wishlade.

“He will not see them. They may have moved away. He no longer knows where they are.

“That is fairly substantial punishment of itself.

“This is his first appearance before a court for matters of sexual assault.”

Judge George Moorhouse said: “These were very, very serious offences, offences which fully justify a custodial sentence.

“You provided alcohol and cannabis. There was a degree of grooming.

“They’ve had a disastrous effect on these girls.”

He jailed Moorhouse for five years and gave him an indefinite sexual offences prevention order – his second – banning him from unsupervised contact with children under 16 and contact with the two victims.

McGowan will be on the sex offenders’ register for life.

September 2013

Thornaby pervert tried to take photo of girls at Splash in Stockton

A pervert who tried to take photographs of two girls getting undressed at a public swimming pool blamed the ten-year-old’s for “being provocative”.

Steven McGowan, 39, was caught putting his camera under the adjoining cubicle wall for the sick snapshot of the youngsters at Splash in Stockton.

Staff detained him until police arrived and after initially denying taking pictures, he said his camera may have gone off when he dropped it.

When his home in nearby Thornaby was searched, police recovered two lap-top computers containing more than 5,000 indecent images of children.

Prosecutor David Crook told Teesside Crown Court that McGowan’s vile collection included pictures and films in the most serious categories.

Jailing him for two years, Judge Howard Crowson said: “When you descend into making photographs directly, you must serve a prison sentence.”

The court heard that unemployed factory worker McGowan had gone to the popular swimming centre with children he was looking after in May.

The camera seized by police contained only blurred photographs of the strangers, and they cannot be identified from them, Mr Crook said He added: “His apparent justification was the ten-year-olds were acting in a provocative manner in the showers and in the changing room cubicles.”

Judge Crowson told McGowan “The fact is, you were interested in them in a sexual way, and we have to protect them from people like you.

“It is a real worry that you suggest this was because you were teased in a sexual way. These girls were not old enough to contemplate such a thing.

“Given the way you view young children is something of a worry to me, I hope in the future people will think twice before letting them into your care McGowan, of Acklam Road, Thornaby, admitted charges of taking, making and possessing indecent images of children going back four years.

His barrister, Duncan McReddie, described the pervert’s interest as “an addiction” and said he needed treatment outside of jail to cure it.

Mr McReddie argued for a suspended prison sentence because there would be no guarantee he could go on the course while behind bars.”

McGowan was also put on the sex offenders’ register for ten years, banned from working with children and had restrictions put on internet use.