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Geography teacher accused of attempting to take pictures of colleague on toilet cleared after saying he was only in there because he was having a panic attack

PUBLISHED: 17:35 01 August 2014 | UPDATED: 15:14 17 December 2014

Josephine Mazzina-Claridge was spared jail.

Josephine Mazzina-Claridge was spared jail.

PA Wire/Press Association Images

A geography teacher accused of attempting to take pictures of his colleague on the toilet has been found not guilty after he said he was only in the women’s restroom because he was having a panic attack.

Stephen Hazle, 43, was cleared of six counts of voyeurism and one count of attempted voyeurism at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

His colleague at the Redbridge school had said she had seen a mobile appear from under the cubicle.

Hazle said his anxiety was triggered by his dyslexia and he was on strong anti-depressants to control it, which caused side effects such as bowel problems.

He told the court he became anxious in June last year while preparing for a lesson and used the women’s staff toilets because the others were occupied.

Hazle, of Basil Mews, Newhall, in Harlow, Essex, said: “I had my phone in my hand because I was trying to call [my wife] and I put it on the floor while I was leaning over the bowl.”

Upon examining Hazle’s phone, police found images taken between November 26 and 28 the previous year, some of people’s legs/shoes allegedly taken under the partition wall of toilet cubicles

Hazle said he shared the phone with his wife, who may have left it on the floor while she used the toilet.

He also said he bought a second-hand memory card, which may have already had the images on it.

Kenneth Aylett, defending for Hazle, called him a “man of impeccable character”.

He added: “The point the witness made was that [the phone] was being held deliberately, but she said she didn’t see any hand.

“All the other photos come from a short period at the beginning of owning the camera and [are] not of anyone on the toilet.

“There’s nothing in Mr Hazle’s background to suggest he has a foot fetish.”

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