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Suffolk clergyman Martin Thrower who filmed a man at Ipswich Buttermarket Shopping Centre's toilets pleads guilty to voyeurism

PUBLISHED: 16:05 14 June 2017 | UPDATED: 13:56 16 June 2017

The Very Revd Martin Thrower, outside St Mary's Church in Hadleigh.

The Very Revd Martin Thrower, outside St Mary's Church in Hadleigh.

A Suffolk clergyman who was caught filming a young man in a public toilet in Ipswich had nearly 600 similar images on his phone, a court heard.

Very Revd Martin Thrower leaving Ipswich Magistrates at an earlier hearingVery Revd Martin Thrower leaving Ipswich Magistrates at an earlier hearing

A Suffolk clergyman who was caught filming a young man in a public toilet and had nearly 600 similar images changed his plea from not guilty to guilty during his trial today.

The trial of the Very Reverend Martin Thrower, rector of Hadleigh with Layham and Shelley, began at Norwich Crown Court.

The jury heard the 56-year-old, of Church Street, Hadleigh, pleaded not guilty to two charges of voyeurism on or before August 4, 2016.

Although Thrower admits filming men in toilets, he claims he did not get any sexual gratification from it.

However, during this afternoon’s session the vicar changed his plea and admitted the charges.

The case was adjourned until August 3 for sentencing.

Thrower was arrested after he was caught filming the young man while he was in the next cubicle at the toilets in the Ipswich’s Buttermarket Shopping Centre.

The man saw someone holding a mobile phone over the top of the cubicle.

He then reached up and grabbed the phone from the hand that was holding it, which was Thrower’s, the court heard.

Mr Carter said the young man was shocked and upset. He dressed and left the cubicle and moved to the one next to him.

Mr Carter said: “He wanted to know what on earth the person was playing at filming him as he went to the loo.”

He then went upstairs and alerted a security officer.

Police were called and Thrower was arrested in the centre.

In a police interview Thrower told an officer his interests in filming men in toilets was not sexual and when asked how long he had been doing it, he said since about 2014.

Mr Carter said: “He said he didn’t confine this activity to the Buttermarket Shopping Centre.

“He would go to other places as well - supermarkets, service stations - that sort of thing.

“He said he had not been in the least sexually aroused by the experience.”

The court was told when Thrower’s mobile phone was looked at by police there were 589 still images of individuals in adjoining toilet cubicles. Some of the images had been taken from underneath the compartment, and 50 images were taken from above the toilet.

The jury heard Thrower was in the habit of going into public toilets to de-stress and play solitaire on his phone.

Mr Carter said: “He said he had a stressful couple of years and found that being in lavatory cubicles helped him.

“He said it was somewhere he could go for a bit of peace and quiet, and somewhere where he would not be troubled with matters of work.

“He said he would play solitaire on the phone and the interest would start as to who was sitting in the next door cubicle and matters went from there.”

After Thrower changed his plea The Venerable Dr David Jenkins, Archdeacon of Sudbury, said: “Martin Thrower was convicted of voyeurism today and I apologise unreservedly to those affected by his behaviour.

“The impact on those affected can be devastating and we commend their bravery in coming forward to the police.

“We have worked closely with the police and statutory authorities throughout this investigation and Martin Thrower was suspended immediately we learnt of the incident.

“As with all serious safeguarding situations we will now review the whole case to see if any lessons can be learnt. The Church of England in Suffolk takes safeguarding very seriously and is committed to making all its churches a safer place for all.

“Martin Thrower has achieved a lot of good during his years of ministry, and is well thought of by many, which is why this has been so very hard for everyone concerned.

“In Suffolk we have about 100 paid clergy, another 50 clergy who give their time for free, a further 100 retired clergy who help with services and thankfully cases of this nature are exceptionally rare.”

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