Man watching family with binoculars claimed he was retrieving his cat

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Parents playing with their daughter were shocked and disgusted when they spotted a man watching with binoculars from a bedroom window, the court has heard.

Kevin Hobbs now living at 69 West Princes Street, Helensburgh, pleaded not guilty at Oban Sheriff Court last week to behaving in a threatening and abusive manner which was likely to cause a reasonable person to suffer fear and alarm in that he did loiter at a window using binoculars to observe a family, including a two-year-old girl in a state of undress.

The court heard how the parents, who were in court to give evidence against the accused, were ‘utterly credible’, ‘reliable’, ‘sensible’ and ‘level-headed people’ with good eyesight who were prompted, when they saw they were being observed by Hobbs through what appeared to be binoculars at an unjustifiably short distance of about 40 metres, to confront him and contact the police.

It had been a hot summers night on June 1 this year when the family had been out in the privacy and security of the garden at their Oban home. The little girl had been playing out in her underwear and t-shirt.

The parents both described spotting Hobbs watching them from inside a house nearby. When he realised he had been seen he ‘jumped to one side’ and ‘hid’. The mother said: ‘I felt shocked. I was concerned he was looking at my child.’

While the mother called the police, the father went to Hobb’s front door to confront him.

The father told the court he ‘could not believe’ seeing Hobbs with the binoculars looking at them. ‘It’s not the kind of thing you would normally see. I was angry, I felt disgust,’ he said.

When Hobbs was later challenged by police about being at the window, he was under the influence of drink. He denied being at the window, then changed it to say he may have been there and then explained himself further by saying he was there to retrieve the family cat. He also denied owning any binoculars.

Police did not search his house straight away, when they did two days later no binoculars were found.

Although it could not be ascertained just how long Hobbs had been at the window, Procurator Fiscal David Glancy said he had been ‘furtive.’ Mr Glancy added: ‘He can only have been looking downwards at them and their child who was in a partial state of undress.’ There was no one else was out in the other gardens at the time and there was nothing else remarkable to look at, the court was told.

Hobbs intended to give no evidence himself, instead his solicitor invited an acquittal saying his client’s behaviour was neither threatening or abusive because he had been seen at the window of his own home for only a couple of seconds therefore there was no case to answer.

But after being satisfied by evidence heard, Sheriff Patrick Hughes told Hobbs: ‘I accept evidence about you ducking away from the window knowing you were doing wrong. I don’t accept you were holding a cat. I do accept the evidence of witnesses and I’m satisfied you acted in a manner as libelled. You are guilty.’

Deferring Hobbs’ sentence until November 4 for more reports, the sheriff said: ‘This is a troubling matter especially against the nature of your record.’

Hobbs is under a special condition not to enter Oban.