Suffolk rector who filmed men in public toilets is banned for seven years
- Credit: Su Anderson
A Suffolk clergyman who was convicted of voyeurism after filming men using a public toilet in an Ipswich shopping centre has been sacked by the church.
Martin Thrower, the former rector of Hadleigh, Layham and Shelley, had been handed a suspended four month jail term in August after pleading guilty to two counts of voyeurism at a previous hearing.
The Church of England then carried out disciplinary procedures and removed Mr Thrower from his post in October when he was also barred from ministry as a priest for seven years. The decision has only now been revealed.
Mr Thrower, who was described in court as “well regarded” in the community, could apply to return to ministry in seven years’ time, but would face a risk assessment to assess his fitness to minister.
His voyeurism was exposed when a 17-year-old noticed someone was filming him on the toilet from over the cubicle partition in the Buttermarket shopping centre’s public lavatories.
The teenager grabbed the phone and Mr Thrower was arrested on August 4, 2016.
Officers found almost 600 similar images, which had been taken in public toilets including in supermarkets and service stations. Four videos were also found on a computer at his home.
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During court hearings, Mr Thrower attempted to blame his actions on a breakdown in mental health – however Judge Katherine Moore did not accept his actions, which happened over a two year period, were “anything other than an exercise of free choice repeated again and again”.
Mr Thrower was said to be “deeply remorseful” over his actions.
He was suspended from ministry as soon as the church became aware of the allegations, and remained suspended until his dismissal.
John Howard, spokesman for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said: “The Church of England apologises unreservedly to those people affected by the criminal behaviour of Martin Thrower.
“The impact on those affected by voyeurism can be devastating.
“Although none of his offences took place at church, or in connection with his church role in any way, the Church of England in Suffolk takes safeguarding very seriously, and is committed to making all of its churches a safer place for all.”