Sydney’s Spying Landlord Faces Time Behind Bars

By Sonia Hickey and Ugur Nedim

A multi-millionaire Sydney landlord who rigged up an elaborate hidden camera network to spy on his tenants is facing time behind bars.

Property owner Masaaki Imaeda pleaded guilty to a string of charges including two counts of filming a person’s private parts without consent. He has been referred for an intensive correction order assessment and faces sentencing in Campbelltown Local Court on 22nd December 2016.

Illegal premises

A husband and wife found a hidden camera in a light fitting while renting a room in an illegally constructed ‘shanty town’ in Alexandria, owned by Mr Imaeda. The property housed shipping containers which were occupied by 15 Japanese, Korean and New Zealand people – each paying $160 per week in rent.

Hidden cameras

The couple were alerted to Imaeda’s spying scam when the wife accidentally stumbled across a Japanese website warning people of hidden cameras at the millionaire’s property’s.

When the pair searched the room, they found a camera hidden in a light fitting and immediately contacted police. Police searched the property and found hidden or disguised cameras in all of the rooms, linked by cables to a shipping container in the backyard.

Mr Imaeda told tenants that the control centre was his ‘bedroom’. Inside, police found a TV, recliner chair and recording equipment, including laptops, cameras, USB drives and SD cards, and another hidden camera disguised as a smoke detector, as well as a small locker containing men’s clothing. Imaeda was the only person with a key.

Police allege Imaeda would watch and record his tenants while they were dressing or in bed together.

Guilty pleas

In court, Imaeda pleaded guilty to two charges of installing or using an optical device without consent, adapted to the fabric of a building, under the Surveillance Devices Act and two counts of filming private parts without consent.

Film private parts without consent

Section 91L(1) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) makes it an offence to film another person’s private parts without consent for the purpose of obtaining, or enabling another to obtain, sexual gratification in circumstances where a reasonable person would expect their private parts not to be filmed.

It is a summary offence which means it is finalised in the local court, rather than going to a higher court such as the District Court. The maximum penalty is two years imprisonment and/or $10,000 fine.

The maximum penalty increases to five years imprisonment if the person filmed is under 16 years old, or the offender constructed or adapted the fabric of any building for the purpose of facilitating the commission of the offence.

Mr Imaeda is also awaiting his penalty for breaches of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, relating to the unauthorised construction of the ‘shanty town’ in 2014.

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