Man jailed for spying on naked children in leisure centre

Louis Nugent (67) pleaded guilty to three counts of intentionally engaging in offensive behaviour of a sexual nature at Aura Leisure Centre, among other offences
Man jailed for spying on naked children in leisure centre

Stephen Maguire

A man who spied on naked children in a Co Donegal leisure centre has been jailed for 15 months.

Louis Nugent used a scheme of mirrors and mobile phones to film young girls getting changed in the cubicles of the Aura Leisure Centre in Letterkenny, the court was told.

Judge John Aylmer said the offences involved a "very gross invasion of privacy of young girls".

Father of eight Nugent (67) appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court after being caught by a father of two young girls.

The former carpenter and tax-driver was caught carrying out the lewd acts on a number of occasions.

His operation came to light when the father of the two girls, aged 12 and 14, refused to go to swimming lessons at the leisure centre after they became victims of Nugent.

Detective Garda Stephen Moyles said the sisters were in a changing cubicle on November 15th, 2017 when the younger girl noticed a mobile phone appear beneath the partition with the adjacent cubicle.

The girl believed she and her sister were being recorded and saw a man lying on the floor in the next cubicle. The other girl, who climbed onto the seat, said a man was "hunched over and flicking through his phone".

The girls did not initially tell their parents, but the following week they refused to go swimming and they told their father what had happened.

Monitoring

Instead of confronting the accused, the man decided to monitor Nugent in the changing rooms in a communal area.

The man, who cannot be named to protect the victims, saw Nugent remove someone else’s clothing from a cubicle next to another which a mother and a young girl were using.

He then saw Nugent lying sideways on the floor with a mobile phone in one hand and a circular mirror in the other.

Nugent was observed concealing the phone and mirror with a towel before placing two mirrors and two phones in a locker and returning to the pool area.

The man saw Nugent smile at another young girl, estimated to be six or seven, who then went to a shower cubicle with the door opened.

Detective Garda Moyles said the witness observed Nugent engaging in "an act clearly described as masturbation".

On another occasion, he was witnessed by the man lying on the floor of a cubicle masturbating while filming another young girl getting showered.

The witness saw Nugent remove a mirror which was concealed behind the toilet bowl.

The man finally confronted Nugent and escorted him off the premises, but Nugent whispered to him: "You’ll never f***ing catch me."

The man informed staff and gardaí, who viewed CCTV footage and identified the accused.

Search

A further search of the premises revealed a number of mirrors allegedly hidden by Nugent in other parts of the changing rooms.

Before he could be arrested, Nugent fled to Scotland but was later arrested and brought back to Ireland on a European Arrest Warrant and has been in Castlerea Prison on these charges since October 7th, 2021.

Nugent, with an address at Killyclug, Letterkenny, pleaded guilty to engaging in an act of masturbation in a public place, the Aura Leisure Centre, on November 21st, 2017.

Nugent also pleaded guilty to three counts of intentionally engaging in offensive behaviour of a sexual nature at Aura Leisure Centre on November 15th, 2017 and November 21st, 2017

He also pleaded guilty to intentionally engaging in offensive behaviour of a sexual nature on November 22nd, 2017 on an occasion other than that referred to at the Aura Leisure Centre

His barrister, Mr Sean McGee, said his client simply could not explain why he carried out such acts, saying he had no previous convictions.

Since the matters came to light, he has lost his marriage and has had limited contact with any of his children. The only place he can seek shelter is to his mother's home in Glasgow, he added.

“He has been completely isolated since,” Mr McGee said.

He simply doesn’t understand why he fell into this type of behaviour

“He is not in a position to offer an explanation other than this was something that he fell into. He is at a loss to offer an explanation. He simply doesn’t understand why he fell into this type of behaviour.”

Mr McGee said Nugent wished to apologise to his victims.

Passing sentence, Judge John Aylmer said the offences involved a "very gross invasion of privacy of young girls in changing rooms of a leisure centre" with some of the victims as young as five-years-old.

He noted the maximum sentence for such offences was two years for each count, placing the offences at the upper end of the scale for such offences deserving 20 months before mitigation.

In mitigation, Judge Aylmer said Nugent had pleaded guilty and spared the victims the necessity to give evidence.

He also noted he had no previous convictions and that, as a consequence of his actions, has been ostracized by his family and the community.

In respect of this, he suspended the final five months of his sentence meaning Nugent will serve 15 months in prison. Judge Aylmer backdated the sentence to when Nugent went into custody on October 7th, 2021.

He was also placed on the sex offender's register.

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