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Tuesday 19 November 2019

Pride parade perv's challenge to 'upskirt' sentence is dropped

Russell Sykes (61) was appealing against the severity of a two-month prison term after being caught taking the video
Russell Sykes (61) was appealing against the severity of a two-month prison term after being caught taking the video

A perverted US businessman who was jailed for taking "upskirt" photograph of a woman at Dublin's Pride parade has dropped a legal challenge he had brought against his sentence.

Russell Sykes (61) had appealed the severity of a two-month prison term he was given for humiliating the woman by using his phone to film up her skirt at the festival.

However, when his appeal was due to be heard, a court was told he was not present and the case was withdrawn.

Judge Patrick Quinn struck out the notice of appeal and affirmed the order that had been made at Dublin District Court.

Sykes, a married father-of-two and software engineer from Fox Creek Drive, North Augusta, South Carolina, had pleaded guilty to engaging in offensive conduct of a sexual nature.

The incident happened at O'Connell Street on June 29.

When the appeal came before Dublin Circuit Court, Sykes's solicitor Michael Hanahoe said his client was not present and he was "not expecting him".

A State solicitor said Sykes had received a sentence in the district court and was now in a different jurisdiction.

The judge struck out the notice of appeal.

The court was not told how much prison time Sykes had served before he was released on appeal bail.

He was jailed in July by Judge Conal Gibbons.

At the time, Garda Laura Burke said the victim had been attending the parade when Sykes was seen crouching down and using his phone camera under the woman's skirt.

When she was alerted, the victim, who is Irish, confronted Sykes, but he ran off.

She followed him but lost him in the crowd.

The accused returned to the area later and she recognised him.

When Gda Burke asked to see his phone, she saw an image that had been taken up a skirt.

Sykes had told the court he had got caught up in the atmosphere and it was a "stupid mistake".

He told a probation officer that when he arrived in Dublin he had two glasses of wine at the airport, then another at his city centre hotel before going to the parade.

Sykes said he "saw a young woman" who was very attractive and took a photo of her under her skirt. When she asked him whether he had taken a video, he said he had not and left the area.

Sykes said he was a social drinker with no alcohol problem but was of slim build and on that occasion it "clearly had an effect on him".

Distraught

In her statement, the woman spoke of her humiliation and worry that a recording of a private person would be put up "all over the internet".

"I was distraught. I had a panic attack. I couldn't stop crying," she said.

She felt "violated, shocked and in a state of total distress".

She had asked Sykes to let her have the video and he then "took off."

Judge Gibbons said Sykes's explanation was a "lame excuse", adding: "The day is long gone when men can simply use, abuse and objectify women without their consent, for their own benefit or pleasure."

The judge said the victim was left "insulted, demeaned and dehumanised" by Sykes's behaviour. She had shown resilience by confronting Sykes, who "scarpered like a thief in the night".

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