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Romford man spared jail after taking upskirt picture of woman on night out at Liverpool Street Station

PUBLISHED: 15:53 07 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:53 07 May 2019

Neil Abbott, 32, from Maxwell Road, Romford has been spared jail at Westminster Magistrates Court on Tuesday, May 7 after taking an upskirt photo of a woman at Liverpool Street Station. Picture: PA/Rick Findler

Neil Abbott, 32, from Maxwell Road, Romford has been spared jail at Westminster Magistrates Court on Tuesday, May 7 after taking an upskirt photo of a woman at Liverpool Street Station. Picture: PA/Rick Findler

PA/Press Association Images

A project manager from Romford who admitted to taking a “degrading” upskirt picture of a young woman has been spared jail - telling a judge his life has been turned upside down since the incident.

Entrepreneur Neil Abbott, 32, from Maxwell Road, said he had lost his job, suffered mental health problems and was no longer able to afford to get married or buy a house due to his conviction.

He was handed a 280-hour community service order, told to pay £1,000 in compensation to the victim, given a rehabilitation activity requirement, and ordered to pay an additional £170 in costs and surcharges after he pleaded guilty to one charge of outraging public decency at Westminster Magistrates' Court last month.

Sentencing him at the same court on Tuesday, May 7, district judge Vanessa Baraitser said: “I have no doubt this was a serious, unpleasant and deliberate offence.

“It was quite clearly degrading to the victim. She was quite clearly distressed and repulsed by your behaviour.”

The judge said Abbott was only spared jail because of his early guilty plea and his previous good character.

The court heard Abbott was on a drunken night out with friends last summer when he pushed through a queue and brazenly took a picture up a woman's skirt at Liverpool Street Station in London.

Prosecutor Simon Maughan said Abbott was spotted jumping the queue at the Mi Casa Burritos shop to take the picture of the victim, who was 20 years old and wearing a short denim skirt.

A male witness said: “He (Abbott) took his phone from his pocket and proceeded to take a picture underneath her skirt.

“He wasn't rushing, it was almost like he had done it before.”

The eyewitness informed the victim, who alerted station staff, and they apprehended the intoxicated defendant.

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Abbott told police he would delete the pictures in an attempt to close the matter there.

More than 30 other upskirting pictures were later found on his phone, images he had downloaded from the internet rather than take himself, the court heard.

In a short police statement, the victim said: “I did not give permission for anyone to take the image.

“I feel repulsed by these actions.”

Defending, Kerrie Rowan said her client was paying the price for what he described as the “dumbest decision” of his life.

She said: “These proceedings have had a significant detriment to his mental health to the point of illness.”

She said he was supported at court by his girlfriend of nearly three years, and was from a tight-knit family who were “involved in the church, sporting clubs and the scouts”.

“He has serious concerns about his ability to secure work in the future,” the defence counsel said.

“His family and friends described it as a 'relapse of judgment from somebody who otherwise has everything going for him'.”

The court previously heard Loughborough University graduate Abbott - who spent eight years working as a project manager in banking and finance before setting up his own business a year ago - found upskirting photos “attractive” and had shown genuine remorse for his actions.

Abbott, wearing a blue suit, white shirt and tie, looked down and then nodded as he was handed the sentence.

Last month, HM Courts and Tribunals service said it was conducting an investigation after the defendant was able to persuade court security to let him leave the building through the staff exit during his previous appearance last month to avoid press cameras.

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