Page last updated at 16:14 GMT, Monday, 23 February 2009

Voyeur lawyer gets suspended term

Ritchie MacRitchie
Richie MacRitchie used his mobile phone to record the woman

A solicitor who filmed a woman changing in a west Belfast leisure centre has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Richie MacRitchie, 33, of Ardmullan, Omeath, County Louth, was convicted of attempted voyeurism last month.

He had admitted filming the woman with his mobile phone in the booth next to him at Falls Leisure Centre.

On Monday, he was sentenced to four months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and placed on the Sex Offenders' Register for seven years.

MacRitchie will also face a professional disciplinary hearing later this week.

The solicitor was convicted in January after originally being cleared of voyeurism.

At first a direction of no case to answer was given because his victim was wearing a bikini. Because of this it was decided she was not engaged in a private act according to the Sexual Offences Act.

Later, however, the Court of Appeal ordered the prosecution to proceed on a fresh charge of attempted voyeurism.

'Distress'

Passing sentence, District Judge Fiona Bagnall acknowledged the distress and damage inflicted on the woman filmed.

"It's clear this has had a significant effect upon her life," Mrs Bagnall said.

"I do consider this to be a serious offence which does not fall within the low level range."

The victim's father said his daughter - who was in her late teens when the offence happened in October 2006 - was still suffering from depression, stress and anxiety because of it.

Before MacRitchie left the dock, his legal team indicated they planned to appeal the sentence.



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