South East Wales

Ex-Labour adviser Desmond Hughes harassed teenager with cameras

Desmond Hughes and Clare Anderson
Image caption Desmond Hughes and Clare Anderson were found guilty of harassment

A former special adviser to a Labour peer faces jail for using CCTV cameras at his Cardiff home to harass the family next door.

Desmond Hughes, 65, and his partner Clare Anderson, 55, were found guilty of a joint charge of harassment.

Cardiff magistrates' court also heard they stared at the family's 18-year-old daughter through her bedroom window.

Hughes, a former aide to Lord Corbett, had claimed in court that the cameras were there because of security advice.

He and Anderson were found guilty of harassing neighbours Nick and Linda Hancock and their daughter Talia.

District Judge Bodfan Jenkins said the conduct of Hughes and Anderson was "unacceptable and oppressive".

The judge said he was satisfied they were lying in evidence and he warned them that he was considering all options including prison. The offence carries a maximum three-month sentence.

Judge Jenkins told the pair: "You continued pointing the cameras which had nothing to do with security or tackling crime.

"This was a deliberate course of conduct designed to create unpleasantness and to harass and distress.

"I am satisfied you are lying and that the Hancocks are telling the truth."

The court heard the harassment began a year after the Hancocks moved next door to Hughes and Anderson in Old St Mellons, Cardiff.

'Odd behaviour'

College student Talia Hancock told the court that surveillance cameras were aimed at her family's back garden and pointed directly at their drive.

Miss Hancock said: "It was directly angled. It wasn't pointed on to his property - just ours.

"I'm certain it was pointing directly on to our garden."

She told the court how Hughes and Anderson constantly stared at her through her bedroom window.

"I was always aware of that from the moment I moved in," she added.

"They would stand there with their hands on their hips staring up at my bedroom until I moved away from my window.

"I thought it was odd behaviour to stand and stare up at somebody.

"My mum would always tell me to ignore them but it got to the point where I felt really intimidated by them.

"Whenever I'm in my bedroom now, my curtains are always drawn."

PC Christopher Fennessy told the court that police found a number of cameras on Hughes' property but there was no evidence that images were being recorded.

Hughes admitted owning an extensive collection of firearms, shotguns and various explosives that were regularly inspected by police.

He also admitted he had three cameras attached to both the front and back of his house when the Hancocks moved in next door.

But he claimed he never had cause to point the cameras in the direction of either their garden or driveway and most of them were not even working.

Hughes and Anderson will be sentenced later, and were ordered not to contact the Hancock family.