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A man has been sentenced after a sharp eyed Tesco shopper saw him taking photos of a seven-year-old girl in Hemel Hempstead.
The woman alerted the girl's mother who called staff and 44-year-old father-of-two Craig Laundon was detained until the police arrived.
Prosecutor Joseph Templeton told St Albans crown court that officers also seized Laundon's computer, but nothing illegal was found.
Mr Templeton said: "The images of the 7-year-old were not indecent. The case was brought because the act of taking the photographs in Tesco rendered it an offence."
When questioned by the police, Laundon said he had taken images of children for the past six weeks, but had always deleted them because he did not want his wife to find out.
Laundon, a self-employed Health and Safety Engineer, of Tring Road, Aylesbury., pleaded guilty to one act of outraging public decency on 22nd November last year. He was of previous good character.
Matthew Dance, defending, said his client's clandestine behaviour developed since he suffered ill health in September 2013. He said the photographs were not indecent and were taken from waist height.
Mr Dance said Laundon's marriage had broken down after his arrest, but he was supported by his family and friends. He had been attending regular counselling sessions, he said.
Recorder Kalyani Kaul QC told him: "I don't know what happened to you. People hold you in high regard.
"You have a problem. You needed to be caught because you needed help."
She made a 12 month Community Order with 12 months' supervision by probation officers. He must also pay £500 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.
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