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Court

Man who secretly filmed lodger in shower and harassed her given suspended sentence

Judge Martin Nolan described the man’s behaviour as “disgraceful” but said he didn’t deserve a longer stay in prison.

A MAN WHO secretly filmed his lodger while she was showering and then harassed her for months has been given a suspended sentence of 16 months.

Le Wang (42) of Balally Drive, Dundrum, Dublin 16, pleaded guilty to harassing a foreign student over three months between December 2022 and March 2023.

At a sitting of Dublin Circuit Criminal Court two weeks ago, Judge Martin Nolan remanded Wang in custody for a fortnight “to think about what he did” while he considered his verdict.

Today, Judge Nolan described Wang’s behaviour as “disgraceful” but said he didn’t deserve a longer stay in prison.

Wang was ordered not to communicate with or about the injured party in any way for the next ten years.

Judge Nolan said Wang had videoed the woman twice in the shower and was attempting to do it a third time when the woman noticed the phone.

Wang had hidden the phone in a laundry basket, balanced on clothes at the foot of the bathtub, the court heard.

Judge Nolan said that when confronted, Wang implied threats to disclose the videos and harassed the young woman for three months, which had been very distressing for her.

The court heard that the woman had arrived in Ireland from China in 2021 to study and was offered a room to rent in Wang’s house.

Garda Paul Kane told Jane Murphy BL, prosecuting, that the woman paid €950 for her first month’s rent in December 2022.

She told gardaí that when she moved in, Wang started to text her every day, asking her things like what she was up to and whether she would like to go to a bar. He also asked her to let him know when she wanted to have a shower, the court heard.

On December 20, 2022, the woman was in the bathroom getting ready to have a shower when she noticed the accused’s mobile phone balancing on clothes in the laundry basket.

She immediately brought it to the attention of Wang’s wife, who said her husband must have put it there by accident and gave it back to him.

Wang overheard the conversation and heard the student crying, the court heard.

That evening, he sent her a series of text messages to the effect that she had to move out the next day.

The messages also contained the following threats: “If you make a big deal out of what happened tonight and ruin my family, I have a way of ruining your reputation. You better pretend nothing happened tonight.”

The student moved out that evening. Wang’s wife later rang the injured party and told her she had looked through her husband’s phone and found many videos of her on it.

In the months that followed, Wang tried to contact the student through several social media apps, including WhatsApp and WeChat, a messaging app used by the Chinese community.

The woman always tried to block his contact, and after 18 incidents of attempted conversations, the harassment ended on 11 March 2023.

Wang was asking the woman to come back to the house, asking where she was and saying he wanted to apologise to her.

Gardaí seized the man’s phone and found two videos of the woman naked in the shower, taken on December 5 and 10, 2022.

Garda Kane said the videos had been deleted and then restored, and photos had been screenshotted from them and shared to Wang’s own WeChat app.

Wang has no previous convictions.

A victim impact statement was handed to the judge but was not read aloud.

Gda Kane agreed with Marc Murphy BL, defending that there was no suggestion that the images or videos had been shared with anyone else.

The court heard that Wang cooperated fully with gardaí and seemed to suggest to them that his behaviour had been an extraordinary misjudgement or a “moment of madness”.

“Many moments of madness,” interjected Judge Nolan.

Wang came to Ireland about twenty years ago from China and has always worked, the court heard.

He is currently self-employed as a taxi driver, working up to 50 hours a week.

A psychological report described Wang as extremely introverted and said his childhood had been “devoid of emotional expression”.

Judge Nolan remarked that there were plenty of introverted people in the world and that this was neither a mitigating nor an aggravating factor.

Counsel said Wang had made “an utter fool of himself” and put his marriage and his employment at risk. The court heard that the psychological report placed Wang at a low risk of recidivism.

“He’s a man who’s learnt his lesson,” said counsel, submitting letters from Wang and his wife to court.