Student charged with covert filming of colleagues using MCAST bathrooms

18-year-old MCAST student placed under supervision and treatment order after denying charges of having covertly filmed other students in his school toilets

An 18 year-old MCAST student was arraigned for covertly filming students using the college bathrooms, charges which he is denying.

Arraigned by Inspector Godwin Scerri before Magistrate Josette Demicoli on Tuesday afternoon, the San Gwann man was charged with taking pictures of a sexual nature and misuse of electronic telecommunications equipment, after allegedly being caught using his mobile phone to film other unwitting students using the men’s toilets.

Videos relating to two different individuals were found, with the prosecution telling the court that more victims could come forward.

The charges carry a potential prison sentence of up to two years, as well as a fine of up to €5,000.

Members of the accused’s immediate family were present in the courtroom during the arraignment.

The validity of the arrest was not contested by the defence lawyers, who entered a plea of not guilty on the youth’s behalf. The prosecution exhibited a written statement, signed by the accused.

Police received a report from another student who said the accused had been filming him from above from an adjacent toilet stall. He had detained the accused and informed the authorities. There were also other videos, said the inspector.

Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Jacob Magri, defence counsel, requested a ban on the publication of the names of the parties involved as well for bail. A request for a temporary supervision and treatment order was also made. Azzopardi stressed this was not to be construed as an admission of any sort, but the investigation had revealed a number of things which would best be addressed by a specialist acting as the “long arm” of the court.

The accused is currently suspended from school, said the lawyer, suggesting that he be prohibited from entering the school premises.

The accused’s mobile phone has been seized by the police and contained all the evidence, the lawyer said.

Inspector Scerri did not object to the request for the ban on publication of the names of those involved, but said the public needed to be aware of the place where the alleged offences took place.

The prosecution, too, did not object to bail, but insisted the accused be prohibited from approaching the school and that the court impose a strong financial deterrent.

Magistrate Demicoli upheld the request for a ban on the publication of the name of the accused and the details of the alleged victims.

The court addressed the accused directly, telling him that he would have to attend appointments with a court-appointed medical professional and follow his advice, or face a fine of nearly €2,000 which would be converted to jail time if he was unable to pay. She asked him whether he accepted. The accused, who appeared to have difficulty expressing himself, eventually said “I accept”, in English.

Setting bail at €2,000 with a personal guarantee of €6,000, the court placed the accused under temporary supervision and treatment orders, a curfew, and ordered him to stay away from his college campus.