A Sydney high school teacher who was caught filming up the skirts of female students has been spared jail and told he will be able to serve his sentence in the community.
Eric Wong, 29, was earlier this year jailed and led away in handcuffs after police uncovered hundreds of videos and images of female students taken over two years on his personal computers.
Wong was sentenced to 14 months in jail, with a six-month non-parole period, as magistrate Alexander Mijovich said he had no other option than to send him to prison.
But in a late twist, the former Cammeraygal High School teacher was released from custody on bail just hours later after his lawyer launched an appeal against the severity of his sentence and argued he should be able to serve his term out of prison.
On Thursday, Wong appeared in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court to appeal the sentence imposed in the Local Court.
His barrister, Peter Givorshner, told the court that Wong did not have an issue with the length of the sentence however argued that Wong should serve it in the community by way of an intensive corrections order.
The court was told that Wong had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and voyeurism disorder.
And Mr Givorshner argued that Mr Mijovich “brushed aside” the impact of his disorders on his offending.
“We say it is mitigating that a person with (autism spectrum) disorder did not fully appreciate the consequences of what he was doing,” Mr Givorshner said.
He also added that Wong would not be able to receive treatment for his mental health disorders while in jail.
Wong pleaded guilty to two counts of filming a person’s private parts without consent.
He was discovered in December last year when he asked a student to stay behind in class, according to court documents.
When Wong and his victim were alone in the classroom, he asked her to complete a survey on his laptop on a workbench.
As she took a step backward, she noticed a mobile phone that had been purposely placed on the ground leaning upwards.
Two days later the girl told her parents, who informed school authorities and it was discovered that neither Cammeraygal High School nor the NSW Department of Education had authorised any student survey.
Wong was arrested at his home and police seized his laptop and desktop computer.
Officers found 90 video recordings that depicted Wong walking up to female students and discretely positioning his mobile phone to film their buttocks and groin.
They also found 300 photos of female students shot from under their blouses showing their buttocks, groin and breasts.
On Thursday, Judge John North described Wong’s offending as a “profound breach of trust”.
“Here is a schoolteacher of previous exemplary character who has committed crimes that involve using cameras to look up the dresses of students and this must still rankle with those people who were affected by this,” Judge North said.
The court was told that Wong had since lost his job and suffered a breakdown in a four-year relationship.
Judge North agreed to quash Wong’s sentence and order that he serve a two-year intensive corrections order but only because Wong had previously spent 29 days in custody after he was arrested.
Before he walked out of court, Wong was told that he must also abide by a treatment plan.
Judge North warned Wong that he would be brought back before the court if he breached his obligations.