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Home Tonbridge News Article
A Tonbridge firefighter who hid his mobile phone in a pack of Rennies to secretly film a woman in the shower has been spared jail today.
Neil Capeling, who also served as a firefighter in Maidstone, will be on the sex offenders' register for five years after admitting voyeurism.
The 49-year-old of Dowgate Close, tore a hole in the packet of indigestion tablets and put the Sony mobile inside.
He then placed the box on the windowsill before the woman used the shower.
When she had finished, she went to brush her teeth and noticed something black poking through the end of the box.
The victim then found a hole had been torn in the cardboard flap used to close it and noticed a phone had been squeezed inside.
"His admission to this offence came as a complete surprise to everyone I have spoken to..." - fire service manager Mick Stern
It was pointing in the direction of the shower and the screen indicated the phone had been filming for around 12 minutes.
Capeling admitted the offence at Maidstone Magistrates' Court and returned there today to be sentenced.
He was given a three-year community order with supervision and ordered to undergo a sex offender treatment programme.
The court heard how being put on the sex offenders' register would be "catastrophic" for his future in the fire service.
He has been suspended from duty, but disciplinary action was delayed until after the sentencing.
It is possible Capeling will lose his job, fire service home and will be delayed from accessing his pension.
Nick Hearn, defending, told how Capeling had recently struggled with stress and depression.
Capeling's line manager at Kent Fire and Rescue Service, Mick Stern, also appeared in court as a character witness.
He described Capeling as a "highly respected" firefighter who was one of the most valuable members of his team.
Mr Stern said: "His admission to this offence came as a complete surprise to everyone I have spoken to."
But he said it was unlikely Capeling would keep his job if he was made to sign the sex offenders' register.
Magistrate Dave Mann told Capeling his crime was "very serious" and had caused distress for the victim and her family, as well as his own.
Capeling was arrested on Thursday, January 2 but denied filming anyone or taking any images.
But an examination of his phone revealed several images of unknown people showering in the bathroom.
Other images showed the phone being positioned and Capeling drying himself.
Capeling served as a firefighter in Maidstone from 1986 to 1990 and in Tonbridge from 1990 onwards.
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