March 2015

ESTONIAN man who admitted filming up the short skirts of girls as young as 10 praised the English justice system – after he was told he was not going to be jailed

Pavels Beitans, of Penrose Street, Stonehouse appeared at Plymouth Magistrates Court after admitting 10 counts of outraging public decency by behaving in an indecent manner.

Gareth Warden, prosecuting, explained how Beitans, who was born in Latvia but classed himself an Estonian citizen, was seen by a shopper in the Primark store in Drake Circus on October 4 last year acting suspiciously.

Store security followed him on CCTV and saw him carrying a mobile phone. They noticed him repeatedly bending down behind a young woman who wore a short skirt.

Police were called and Beitans was stopped outside Drake Circus. Officers found the mobile phone’s video application was still running and further examination of the phone revealed a number of other similar videos, all taken in the previous few months.

They included other videos taken at the Primark store, but also at a car boot sale at Plymouth Argyle football ground, in Mayflower Street, inside a Superdrug store, at Wilkinsons store, in Poundland store and in Boots within the mall.

The first offence dated back to July 30 last year and Mr Warden said that of the 48 video files found the CPS was bringing ten specimen charges.

Mr Warden said: “They show a number of films up young girls skirts – different days and at a number of locations. Views included bare thighs, underwear and on one occasion, bare buttock.

“The ages vary from as young as ten to young teens.”

Investigators have told The Herald Beitans had often filmed the faces of his victims, possibly in an attempt to match them with the up-skirt footage. Detectives were able to determine that while the majority of the girls were teenagers, a few were thought to be under 16 and one – wearing as short pink dress at the Argyle car boot sale – was estimated to be as young as ten.

None of the girls could be identified by police and remain unaware they were filmed.

During interview he admitted being in the store but claimed he was just buying “socks” before answering no comment to questions.

As the case against him was read out, Beitans was handed tissues by a Russian-speaking interpreter to dab his tears.

In mitigation, his advocate Graham Kinchin alluded to a pre-sentence report prepared by the probation services and said his client was deeply remorseful and “extremely scared of jail”. He also “welcomed the chance to make recompense to the country and the city.” He said Beitans had met with a psychiatrist and his GP arranged a meeting for him with a sex therapist who concluded the filming incident was due to the “serious nervous stress which was as a result of a previous breakdown of a relationship”.

The chairman of the bench said Beitans behaviour was “totally unacceptable”, but noted his early guilty plea and remorse.

He passed a 16 weeks jail sentence, suspended for 12 months. He ordered Beitans to complete a 12 month supervision order, undertake 150 hours unpaid work, to forfeit the mobile phone, pay £40 costs, pay £80 victim surcharge and be subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for five years which would see him banned from owning or using any photographic equipment, prohibit him from taking images of children and see him leave his home contact details with police. Any breaches of the order would result in a jail term of up to five years.

Speaking through the interpreter, Beitans said he was grateful to the court and police who “stopped me from this horrible mistake. I feel very guilty and very remorseful.”

He added: “I am convinced now that the justice system in England is very just and very fair and I’m very grateful.”

He said he would do “everything to show that I will recompense what I have done and show my respect for this country.”