A man used mirrors and mobile phones to spy on young naked children in a Co Donegal leisure centre.
Father-of-eight Louis Nugent, 67, appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court after being caught by a horrified father-of-two young girls.
The former carpenter and tax-driver was caught carrying out the lewd acts on a number of occasions.
His seedy operation only came to light when two young girls aged 12 and 14 refused to go to swimming lessons at the Aura Leisure Centre in Letterkenny after they became victims of the pervert.
Detective Garda Stephen Moyles said the sisters were in a changing cubicle on November 15, 2017 when the younger girl noticed a mobile phone appear beneath the partition with the adjacent cubicle.
The girl believed that she and her sister were being recorded and saw a man lying on the floor in the next cubicle. The other girl, who climbed onto the seat, told how a man was ‘hunched over and flicking through his phone’.
They didn’t initially tell their parents but the following week they refused to go swimming and they told their father what had happened.
Instead of confronting the accused, the man decided to monitor Nugent in the changing rooms in a communal area.
The man, who cannot be named to protect the victims, saw Nugent remove someone else’s clothing from a cubicle next to another which a mother and a young girl around 6 years were using.
He then saw Nugent lying sideways on the floor with a mobile phone in one hand and a circular mirror in the other.
Nugent was observed concealing the phone and mirror with a towel. Nugent was seen placing two mirrors and two phones in a locker and returning to the pool area.
The man saw Nugent smile at another young girl, estimated to be six or seven years of age. The young girl went to a shower cubicle with the door opened.
Detective Garda Moyles said the witness observed Nugent engage in ‘an act clearly described as masturbation’.
On another occasion he was witnessed by the man lying on the floor of a cubicle masturbating while filming another young girl getting showered.
The witness saw Nugent remove a mirror which was concealed behind the toilet bowl.
The outraged man finally confronted Nugent and escorted him off the premises but brazen Nugent whispered to him “You’ll never f***ing catch me.”
The man informed staff and Gardai who viewed CCTV footage and identified the accused.
A further search of the building revealed a number of other mirrors allegedly hidden by Nugent in other parts of the changing rooms.
Before he could be arrested however, Nugent fled to Scotland but was later arrested and brought back to Ireland on a European Arrest Warrant and has been in Castlerea Prison on these charges since October 7, 2021.
Nugent, with an address at Killyclug, Letterkenny, pleaded guilty to engaging in an act of masturbation in a public place, the Aura Leisure Centre, on November 21, 2017.
Nugent also pleaded guilty to three counts of intentionally engaging in offensive behaviour of a sexual nature at Aura Leisure Centre on November 15, 2017 and November 21, 2017
He also pleaded guilty to intentionally engaging in offensive behaviour of a sexual nature on November 22, 2017 on an occasion other than that referred to at the Aura Leisure Centre
His barrister, Mr Sean McGee, said his client simply could not explain why he carried out such acts, saying he had no previous convictions.
Since the matters came to light, he has lost his marriage and has had limited contact with any of his children.
The only place he can seek shelter is to his mother’s home in Glasgow, he added.
“He has been completely isolated since,” Mr McGee said.
“He is not in a position to offer an explanation other than this was something that he fell into. He is at a loss to offer an explanation. He simply doesn’t understand why he fell into this type of behaviour.”
Mr McGee said that Nugent wished to apologise to his victims.
Judge John Aylmer remanded him in custody until next Wednesday, November 2, 2022, when he will sentence Nugent.