Student secretly recorded sex and shared video on WhatsApp with rugby team

A 21-year-old student secretly filmed a woman as he had sex with her before sharing the video in his rugby team’s WhatsApp group, a court heard.

Samuel Heron, 21, took the 16-second clip without the woman’s knowledge, and afterwards sent it to his friends.

When the woman found out what he had done she contacted police, the Liverpool Echo reports.

The Liverpool John Moores University student was subsequently charged with voyeurism.

Tom Hanlon, prosecuting at Liverpool Magistrates Court, said: “The defendant filmed a 16-second clip without the complainant’s knowledge.

“It was shared in a rugby team WhatsApp group.”

The woman was later notified by a friend and Mr Hanlon said: “As soon as she became aware of this the defendant tried to contact the complainant to explain, she didn’t want contact with him but obtained the video clip to make a decision whether to go to police. She did.”

Mr Hanlon told the court Heron accepted filming himself and the complainant and doing so without her knowledge or consent.

Heron has no previous convictions, the court heard.

Gerald Armstrong, defending, said on the date of the offence Heron realised “the rest of his life will be changed”.

Mr Armstrong said: “He not only lost his character, he could lose his liberty.”

He said: “This is horrible, he shouldn’t have done it – he let this young lady down.”

Mr Armstrong added: “I do know him because he plays for my son’s rugby team. I have known him for some years as a young man at the club.”

He read out statements from members of Heron’s family, his friends and the president of the Rugby club to the court.

One friend called him a “kind natured boy”, “caring” and a “great friend” while his aunt described him as “a talented sportsman” and “a caring young man”.

His sister wrote: “I am extremely grateful for the friendship I have with my brother”, and said he is someone “I know I can trust”.

She added: “I have never seen him so upset or ashamed of his own actions.”

Mr Armstrong added: “I am aware of the rugby culture that occurs around a university. My impression of Sam’s behaviour on this occasion is he was heavily involved in the culture.”

District Judge James Clarke, sentencing, said: “Everybody accepts this has been a particularly nasty and serious offence, there are certainly features of it that place it in that category.”

The district judge said there was a “breach of trust” simply to film the sex, but that “to share it went beyond that”.

Heron, of Malvern Road, Kensington, previously admitted one count of voyeurism.

District Judge Clarke noted that while Heron only intended to share it in a group “there’s no control where this will go next”.

The district judge said: “I recognise this isn’t done maliciously” adding there was a “sense of bravado” and said the offence was committed in an environment of drinking.

He said the impact on the woman was “huge”, noting that one of her main concerns was that the video may be shared further.

District Judge Clarke said: “Any expression of remorse is genuine and heartfelt, I get that again through Mr Armstrong’s address to me.

“It is clear to me two lives have been irreparably damaged by this.”

Heron was handed a 20-week sentence suspended for 18 months and must complete five Rehabilitation Activity Requirements and the Horizons Programme.

He must also sign the Sex Offenders Register for seven years.

A three-year restraining order preventing Heron from contacting his victim or speaking about her was also imposed.