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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
John Scheerhout

Pervert loner jailed after police spotted him acting suspiciously at Manchester Pride

A loner has been jailed after taking hundreds of pictures of women's bottoms - breaching a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

Plain clothes officers became suspicious when they spotted Andrew Smoggie, 52, taking pictures of unwitting women at Manchester's Pride festival last year.

When they stopped him, they carried out a check and realised he was subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) which barred him from taking pictures or videos of women he didn't know in a public place.

READ MORE: Man and woman linked to Manchester's notorious Waterloo Gang jailed after turf war shootings

A court heard the order had been imposed in October 2021 as part of a suspended prison sentence for an offence of 'upskirting'.

Plain clothes officers 'observed' Smoggie, who has a history of sex offending, taking a number of photographs of passing women from behind on Peter Street on August 27, 2022, during the Manchester Pride weekend, prosecutor Katherine Wright told Manchester Crown Court today (Wednesday).

Smoggie had aimed the camera at their bottoms and the women he was photographing 'were not aware photos were being taken', said Miss Wright.

When officers challenged him, Smoggie was said to have told the cops: "It's not illegal to take photos in a public place."

However, when an officer checked Smoggie's phone they found it contained 'multiple images of women mostly from behind focussing on their bottoms', said the prosecutor.

A check of police records established the defendant was the subject of a SHPO and he was arrested.

Analysis of the phone found 348 images of mostly adult women, all fully clothed, who appeared to be unaware the snap had been taken, said Miss Wright. Some of the images showed girls from the age of 14, the court was told.

When he was interviewed by officers, Smoggie said he had been 'set up to fail' because of the imposition of the SHPO. He insisted none of the pictures he had taken was for sexual gratification.

As part of their investigation, police also uncovered a second phone belonging to Smoggie on which a further 1,400 pictures of women in a public place were found. The court heard some of these were taken after the imposition of the SHPO.

During a second police interview, Smoggie admitted he had taken all the pictures found on the device. He admitted it was a breach of the order but stated the SHPO had been 'unfair', the court was told.

He admitted he had travelled to Pride events both in Manchester and Liverpool to take the images.

Smoggie had 27 previous convictions spanning 36 offences, six of them sex crimes, the court was told.

Smoggie was jailed at Manchester Crown Court (MEN Media)

He was convicted of indecent assault against a female over the age of 16 in 2001 and he also has four offences of voyeurism to his name. He had also been convicted of breaching a SHPO eleven times, the court was told.

In February last year, Smoggie was convicted of an 'upskirting' offence at Bolton Magistrates' Court and he was handed a 24-week prison sentence which was suspended for two years. He was also made the subject of an indefinite SHPO.

David Thompson, defending at Manchester Crown Court, stressed his client's conduct 'wouldn't ordinarily be unusual or criminal' but for the existence of the SHPO.

He said: "When officers stopped and asked to look at the phone, I understand he was compliant and there's no suggestion he was anything other than compliant at that time and, indeed, the images themselves, albeit they are images he is prevented from taking, they are not necessarily in themselves the worst images that come before these courts. There's no suggestion what-so-ever there was anything along the lines of upskirting, which is an offence which gives rise to the imposition of the suspended sentence."

He described his client as 'very much a loner' who had been the victim of abuse as a child which had left him suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Smoggie was also said to have 'features of autism' and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Mr Thompson said: "He's very much a loner. He doesn't have much in the way of support from family and friends."

Recorder Paul Reid KC told the defendant: "Amongst the prohibitions of the order you were prevented from using a mobile phone with the intention of capturing moving or still images of females not previously known to you when you were in a public place. In essence, that's what you did quite a number of times."

Even though the defendant argued the order had set him up to fail, he 'realised it was illegal' to take the pictures, said the judge.

Recorder Reid added: "You say they weren't for sexual gratification. If they weren't, I don't know what they were for." The judge said the offences were 'serious matters' and represented 'persistent breaches' of the SHPO.

Smoggie, of Thelwall Walk in Warrington, was jailed for two years and four months after he admitted two breaches of the SHPO and a breach of his suspended prison sentence.

The defendant asked what would happen to his housing association accommodation while he was behind bars and Recorder Reid told him: "That's a matter for you and the accommodation people. The sentence is one of two years and four months."


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