A MARRIED dad who filmed up women’s skirts in a central London department store and kept indecent pictures of children has avoided jail.

Paul Gower, 44, was initially arrested after being spotted on CCTV using his mobile phone on an escalator after following his victims around Topshop, in Oxford Street.

During an initial search, police found his phone contained three other similar videos filmed a few days before while his laptop contained about 30 more upskirt videos.

In a further search, police also found a cache of more than 450 still and moving images - some of them in the most serious Category A - of children as young as seven years old.

Seafood businessman Gower admitted outraging public decency and four counts of possession of indecent images at Westminster Magistrates’ Court and was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court to eight months in prison, suspended for two years.

The voyeur was also placed on the sex offenders’ register for ten years and was told to complete 100 days of sexual offences treatment.

Sukwinder Dhadda, prosecuting, told Gower's sentencing hearing the dad-of-three had been "open and candid" in his police interview and had "fully admitted" downloading videos and using his mobile phone to film up women's skirts.

Silas Reid, mitigating at Southwark Crown Court, said Gower’s interest was purely "voyeuristic".

He added: "Many times, when people seek these images out on the internet, they cannot see them first.

"They get them in a bundle and that’s why he has the Category A and B images.

"But he knew there was a danger and went on to the seek them out, I don’t seek to minimise his culpability."

Mr Reid said Gower had "confronted these issues head on" and said he had shown "clear remorse", adding: "I would be surprised if there has been someone before you who has taken so many steps prior to sentencing.

"It seems his marriage will survive. He knows more than anyone how lucky he is in that respect.

"The defendant’s primary concern is the impact on the children."

Sentencing Gower, Judge Andrew Goymer said: "There can be few tasks more disagreeable for a judge than sentencing a man such as you for offences such as these.

"You are married with children and you were in a good job, no doubt earning a good income for your family.

"Despite all that, you have chosen to commit these offences, which have brought shame upon you and, no doubt, though they are wholly innocent of it, shame on your family as well.

"I find it difficult to speak in moderation of the contempt that one feels for anyone who engages in the act of upskirt photographing.

"That, if it stood by itself, is contemptible. But it became apparent you have been downloading indecent images of children.

"Whether or not it started with low grade images and they all came as part of a package makes no difference at all as far as I’m concerned.

"People such as you need to understand very clearly that this is not a victimless offence.

"You are indeed very fortunate that your wife appears prepared to stand by you.

"You are very fortunate also that your friends, whose son you are godfather to, will also stand by you as well.

"One could understand how they would want nothing more to do with you as they could not trust you in the company of their children.

"I am just persuaded to suspend the sentence, but I can tell you the gap is so narrow you would not see daylight through it."

Long delay in reporting case

THERE has been a significant delay in reporting this case because Gower is listed in both Metropolitan Police and court papers as living in Dumgoyne Road, in Kilmarnock, Scotland.

However the Gazette has seen documentation which proves the defendant is dad-of-three Paul Gower, who lives in Wakes Colne.

Gower was first arrested on August 21, 2015, and was released on bail before being charged by the London Crown Prosecution Service on November 8, 2016.

He admitted the charges at Westminster Magistrates' Court a month later and was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on January 6, 2017.

Throughout the legal process, he has been listed as living at the Scottish address.

However electoral roll searches show no record of Gower being listed as a resident there.

Scottish Land Registry documents obtained by us show the two-bed end-of-terrace house attributed to Gower was bought on September 30, 2016, by a Linda Beryl Gower for £50,000.

Halstead Gazette:

Scottish address - the well-heeled business man was listed as living in this end of terrace home. Picture: Google

The purchase was registered a week later, on October 7.

In the weeks after his sentencing, the home appeared for rent on property website Rightmove for £500 per calendar month.

We contacted Gower using recorded mail, which was successfully delivered.

We asked how he had come to be listed as living at a terraced home more than 400 miles from his £2 million Wakes Colne home and where there was no record of him.

He was given five days to respond by any means but at the time of going to press yesterday, no comment had been received.

Essex Police has consistently refused to comment on the case, citing a policy of not confirming the identity of sex offenders who live in the county - despite our strong public interest arguments.

We now understand Gower has been assigned a sexual offender liaison officer and he is under the watchful eye of the Essex force.

The force has released a statement this morning.

A spokesman said: "Essex Police will neither confirm nor deny the whereabouts or details of convicted sex offenders, unless there are exceptional reasons for doing so.

"We have a dedicated team of officers whose role is to manage the risk posed by registered sex offenders living in the community who have been released from prison or detention in hospital. 

"We work with partner agencies, including social care and the health service, to put in place strict measures and close monitoring that aim to prevent reoffending."

Both the Met Police and the London CPS helped us with our queries but stated the only address on file for Gower is in Kilmarnock.