A Queensland man has been sentenced to two six-month jail terms for secretly filming showering backpackers for “personal gratification” at his Glasshouse Mountains accommodation.
Conrad Cosgrove, 44, advertised for “a male backpacker”, promising free on-site accommodation in the Sunshine Coast hinterland in return for driving farm animals around Queensland for his company Animal Ark Transport. The ad promised weekly pay, free meals, travel across four states and “a lot of fun”.Dutch backpacker Maron de Rooij, 26, was staying at the property and became suspicious, according to the Sunshine Coast Daily, after Cosgrove instructed his guests to “shower every day,” telling them it was a rule of the house.
De Rooij noticed a series of USB cables around the tourism accommodation and discovered a network of cameras hidden throughout the Sunshine Coast property.
They included infra-red sensors and cameras hidden in shelving and furniture, seven cameras placed in a container, and a series of cameras facing the shower.
Ornaments including kookaburras and chickens were glued in place to stop tenants removing wires or putting towels over the camera lenses, according to de Rooij, who posted a video on Facebook in June, saying, “Cops are here, I called them.”
The backpacker told Nine he had no option but to stay the night after discovering the spycams, saying: “I just hid under my blanket and started texting my Dutch cousin who is living here as well, and she called the cops for me.”
Police arrived the following morning to check the property.
Maroochydore Magistrates Court heard that an audio wire extended from the accommodation to Cosgrove’s house.
Cosgrove told the court: “I did not realise I was breaking the law, that’s only an explanation, it’s not an excuse.” He said he kept the footage for “personal gratification”.
He pleaded guilty to two charges of observations or recordings in breach of privacy and to possessing tainted property and was sentenced last week to two concurrent six-month jail terms for both offences, suspended for 18 months.
He originally denied the charges, telling the Sunshine Coast Daily: “The original Facebook post made by the backpacker contains video showing nothing more than corrugated tin, which has hundreds of holes in it for decorative effect.
“The regular haters and keyboard warriors of the Facebook world have resurfaced and taken great pleasure spreading this.
“Is there legal grounds for a case of defamation of character here? Most likely yes, but what’s the point? Mud sticks and the damage is done.”
Mr Cosgrove was charged after police searched the property and a computer.