Stephen Roby, who secretly filmed his neighbours through a hole in their fence for more than a year, outside the District Court. Picture: Keryn Stevens
Stephen Roby, who secretly filmed his neighbours through a hole in their fence for more than a year, outside the District Court. Picture: Keryn Stevens

Creepy neighbour filmed young girls through fence

A man who drilled a hole in his fence and filmed his neighbour's children was only discovered when a young victim spotted a camera lens watching her.

Stephen Roby's crimes devastated both his victims and their mother, damaging their ability to trust and undermining their feeling of safety in their own home.

The 66-year-old from Adelaide's southern suburbs tried to dispose of the evidence when he realised he had been discovered by abandoning disks containing the recordings in a public park.

Roby was initially charged with almost 40 offences of indecent filming and producing child exploitation material between January 2017 and March 2018.

However, he pleaded guilty to eight counts of producing child exploitation material and three counts of indecent filming of a person over 17. Other offences were dropped given the guilty pleas, although District Court Judge Ian Press can still take them into account at sentencing.

On Friday, Judge Press heard victim impact statements which were read to the court by a prosecutor.

A teenage victim said she had been extroverted and enjoyed taking photos with her friends before she discovered she was being covertly filmed.

"I was sitting on the side of the bed changing my pants when I turned my head and looked through the window to find what appeared to be a camera lens peering through a hole which had been drilled in the fence," she said.

"These holes were always covered from the other side, I would never have expected to find them unblocked.

"I told my mother and a few weeks later was told that what I had seen was true and that there was a collection of revealing videos of my sister and I."

 

 

The victim's mother said Roby had been an odd neighbour.

"In the five years that we lived next door to Roby, our family barely knew him or spoke to him," she said.

"I always thought of him as a quiet, shy man who kept to himself and would spend a lot of time in his garden.

"If we saw him he would always stare without a smile or saying a word. I never really thought too much of it.

"The eventual revelation that he had been filming my children and I through the fence which divided our homes defied comprehension."

She said the incident had left her "sick to the core and helpless".

"He violated the privacy of my family in our own home," she said.

"Even though the fence has since been repaired, my mind still sees holes.

"Every time I hear the next door gate open I flinch, it is like Roby is still there, in his garden.

"It was soul-destroying to have to verify images of my children for legal reasons."

Roby was arrested in September 2019 after the filming was brought to the attention of police.

Prior to his arrest, his neighbours wrote a message on the window of one of their rooms informing Roby that they knew what he had been doing.

The court heard that Roby had tried to dispose of disks of evidence in a park, but they had been reported to police.

He will face further sentencing submissions next month. Judge Press informed Roby that he should be prepared to be remanded in custody at his next court appearance.

 

Originally published as Creepy neighbour filmed young girls through fence



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