Jail threat for roofer who spied on Sunderland schoolgirl

Alan Martin Meah
Alan Martin Meah

A Peeping Tom roofer who spied on a girl in her underwear could face jail.

Alan Martin Meah climbed up on scaffolding at the girl’s Sunderland home to look in through her bedroom window.

Sunderland Magistrates' Court.

Sunderland Magistrates' Court.

Meah, 36, of General Graham Street, had denied a voyeurism charge but was convicted after a trial at Sunderland Magistrates Court.

The court heard Meah was a roofer who had been working at the girl’s Sunderland home for the previous two days.

The girl told the court she had been in her room around 7am: “I had my bra and my trousers on,” she said.

She had seen something out of the corner of her eye a couple of times, but ignored it: “The third time, I noticed a man was looking in my window. I think he was staring at me getting ready.”

The girl’s father said he had looked out of the window to see a man dressed in a high visibility jacket jump off the scaffolding, run out of the garden and climb into a company van.

Prosecutor Rebecca Laverick said vehicle tracking records placed Meah’s vehicle in the street twice, at 7am and again at 7.38am.

Interviewed by police he had admitted going to the house at around 7am but had denied climbing onto the scaffolding or returning to the house.

Meah told the court: “I had to recover a wooden ladder that I had left chained to the scaffolding to do another job a couple of streets away.”

Chris Wilson, defending, asked: “Did you climb the scaffolding at 7am that morning?” to which Meah replied “No, I did not.”

Asked if he would have been wearing a fluorescent bib at that time in the morning, he replied: “Not until I started work.”

He told the court he had returned to the street to collect materials for another job, but had not been back to the girl’s house, and denied even knowing she lived at the address.

Mrs Laverick told the court it was ‘unimaginable’ there could have been another company van at the house which neither Meah nor the girl’s father had seen.

Meah had said the girl’s family were unhappy about the time the work was taking: “Mr Meah suggests the family were so concerned with the scaffolding being outside their property that they have concocted the whole story,” she said.

“I would invite you to dismiss that.”

It was not enough to decide Meah had been on the scaffolding - it had to be a deliberate act to spy on the girl: “You have to be satisfied that the defendant was on the scaffolding for the purposes of obtaining sexual gratification,” said Mrs Laverick.

“Well, what other purpose was there? He was not there to work.”

Mr Wilson said the prosecution had failed to establish Meah’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The girl had described seeing a man in his 40s and both she and her father had described him as white, while Meah was of Asian origin.

The girl had also failed to pick him out from a video series of pictures.

“The fact is, in this case, Mr Meah has not been identified,” said Mr Wilson. “Can you convict him on the quality of the evidence we have heard? I would submit you can’t.”

It made ‘no sense’ that Meah would go to the house to commit an offence in a vehicle he knew was being tracked, he said.

But chairman of the bench, Mr K Thompson, said magistrates were satisfied both the girl and her father were credible witnesses, that she had seen someone watching her and her father had seen a man running away. Meah had admitted being at the address at the time of the offence and magistrates agreed he had been on the scaffolding for the purposes of sexual gratification.

“We are, therefore, satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that this case is proved,” he said.

Magistrates adjourned the case for reports, leaving all sentencing options open - including jail - and agreed it should be classed as a Category One offence, the most serious possible.

Meah was released on unconditional bail to appear at South Shields Magistrates Court on October 7 and ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register.