VANCOUVER - A former Vancouver restaurant owner has escaped jail time and will instead serve a suspended sentence for secretly recording customers and staff who used the washroom.
A B.C. provincial court judge sentenced Allan Bosomworth to serve 12 months probation, required him to give a DNA sample, and ordered that he not possess or use any devices that take video or photos.
"His actions were designed to invade the privacy of his patrons and staff," said Judge Harbans Dhillon at the sentencing on Wednesday. "As employer and owner of the restaurant, he ought to have had their security, comfort and interests foremost in his mind."
Bosomworth, 39, pleaded guilty last September to one count of secretly observing nudity in a private place. He hid a small camera in the public restroom of Two Chefs and a Table over a period of four days in December 2012.
Crown prosecutors had asked for the suspended sentence, which means Bosomworth will receive a criminal record and could go to jail or face a fine if he violates the conditions of his probation. He also must complete 60 hours of community service and get counselling.
His lawyer told a sentencing hearing in December that Bosomworth was driven more by the thrill of knowing strangers' secrets — such as whether they were using drugs in the bathroom or were bulimic — than by anything sexual.
Dhillon said Wednesday she believed Bosomworth was compelled by sexual impulses. However, she took into account a psychiatrist's report that found he was unlikely to re-offend.
She added that his expressions of remorse appear to be sincere and heartfelt.
"He has struggled since his arrest with varying levels of depression and anxiety," she said. "He feels a sense of shame and embarrassment."
Dhillon said Bosomworth spends the majority of his time in "self-imposed isolation" in his father's home in the B.C. Interior. He has lost his job, girlfriend, friends and faced barriers in finding new employment, she said.
Bosomworth's lawyer asked for a conditional discharge in order to avoid a criminal record for her client. But Dhillon said the sentence must signal to the public that criminal breaches of privacy result in serious consequences.
She said protecting personal privacy is all the more important given the prevalence of security cameras and cell phone cameras in modern society.
"Members of the public who use the restroom facilities at any bar, restaurant or similar establishment must be assured of their utmost privacy. The law must protect their privacy," she said.
The judge ordered Bosomworth to stay away from his former business partner, Karl Gregg, and three women who worked at the restaurant. He also must pay a $100 victim surcharge and notify the court of any change in name, address or employment.
Gregg accidentally discovered the small camera in the washroom in December 2012. He took it home and found it contained several clips of both men and women using the facilities.
He entered a victim-impact statement with the court that said the incident had caused him emotional, social and financial suffering and he now struggled to trust people. Gregg said someone wrote the word "rat" in red pen across his front door.
In a statement issued after the sentencing, Gregg said he was relieved to see a conclusion.
"We have lived with the emotional, social and financial consequences of these events for over two years," he said.
"We feel any closure will give relief to all involved: from our staff, guests and friends and family."
Another victim impact statement from a former server said that she still feels anxious when using public restrooms.
Bosomworth stared straight ahead during the sentencing and did not respond to reporters' questions as he left the courthouse on Wednesday.
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