Shocking rise in New Zealand perverts charged with making intimate videos

In 2018, a 29-year-old woman travelling to New Zealand from Hungary stayed at Wellington teacher Nigel Colin Edgecombe's homestay.

As she was getting into the shower, she heard noises from behind the mirror - and noticed the shower curtain didn't quite close.

The next day, she made a horrifying discovery. There was a two-way mirror and a digital camera hidden in the wall.

A police investigation found a hard-drive containing 18 hours of intimate recordings of 54 different women showering, changing and using the toilet.

Edgecombe was charged with making intimate videos of people and sharing them to the internet - just one of the growing number of Kiwi perverts caught in a boom fueled by increasingly cheap and small hidden cameras.

Data released to Newshub by Police under the Official Information Act shows the number of people charged with making an intimate visual recording jumped from 41 in 2010 to nearly 90 last year.

And the number of people charged with publishing an intimate visual recording has skyrocketed from 13 in 2010 to 56 in the first 10 months of 2019.

Shocking rise in New Zealand perverts charged with making intimate videos

Netsafe CEO Martin Cocker told Newshub advances in technology have made it easier to hide cameras.

"In the case of 'intimate visual recordings', they tend to be small hidden or disguised cameras - because an intimate visual recording is predicated on the person being filmed not consenting," he told Newshub.

"Typically they will be completely unaware they are being filmed."

A Newshub search found spy cameras are easily available in New Zealand and for as little as $20. Along with little cameras, they come disguised as innocuous items such as smoke alarms, clocks, photo frames, light bulbs, tissue boxes and cups.

Examples of the hidden cameras easily available to buy in New Zealand.
Examples of the hidden cameras easily available to buy in New Zealand. Photo credit: Trade Me

Many of these videos are then being uploaded to international porn sites. 

In 2018, Hawke's Bay man and former prison officer Tony Greathead pleaded guilty to filming 34 women in his homestay, using cameras hidden in shampoo bottles in the bathroom and shower. These were activated by remote control and set up to film his guests between their shoulders and knees.

Eleven of these videos were then uploaded to an international hardcore porn site - which allowed them to be downloaded.

Greathead pleaded guilty to multiple charges of making an intimate visual recording, knowingly making an objectionable publication, distributing an objectionable publication and publishing an intimate visual recording.

Police forced Greathead to delete the videos from the website and remove his account.

But if the videos are downloaded and reshared, some times there is no way to remove this content.

"The mainstream porn sites (Pornhub, XNXX etc) are very good at removing this sort of content - but there are a number of smaller sites that do not respond to, or refuse requests to remove content," Cocker told Newshub.

Cocker says if people do find intimate videos of themselves online, they should report it to NetSafe.

"We can explain their legal and practical options to them - and they can decide which to pursue," he told Newshub.

Cocker says improvements in the law in 2015 have made it easier to prosecute successfully, leading to increased willingness to do so. This means increased justice for victims.