Former Customs officer ‘upskirted’ Border Force staff

A FORMER Customs officer who was caught trying to upskirt female Border Force colleagues at a work Christmas party has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Police later found John O'Sullivan had secretly taken photos of other women's backsides with his mobile phone, over four years.

Initially it was for his own sexual gratification, but later it was for the thrill and risk of taking the photos, O'Sullivan's lawyer told Brisbane Magistrates Court.

O'Sullivan, who retired from Border Force after he was charged, pleaded guilty to five counts of making recordings of women's anal regions, in breach of their privacy.

He also pleaded guilty to three counts of attempting to record images of women's anal regions with his mobile phone.

The then Customs officer's five victims included a female friend, 39, two work colleagues, aged 22 and 41, and two unidentified women.

Former Customs officer John O'Sullivan pictured exiting the Brisbane Magistrates Court. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning
Former Customs officer John O'Sullivan pictured exiting the Brisbane Magistrates Court. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning

Magistrate Belinda Merrin said O'Sullivan, a father-of-three, betrayed the trust of a female friend on a number of occasions, taking and keeping photos.

They were taken at the Maritime Museum at South Bank, at a friend's Ashmore house and during two outings to Chermside shopping centre, between 2014 and 2017.

O'Sullivan also took a photo of an unknown woman's bare bottom, under her skirt, at Eumundi Markets, between 2016 and 2017.

Magistrate Merrin said O'Sullivan's offending came to an end when he was caught preying on two colleagues at a work function at a South Brisbane venue on December 15, last year.

One of the two Border Force colleagues heard a click when O'Sullivan took a photo and another person saw him trying to do it, the magistrate was told.

"That was a betrayal not only of your relationship as work colleagues, but it was a significant invasion to the privacy," Ms Merrin said.

"Women have the right to expect that they can go out in public when clothed and not be preyed upon by people such as you, who, for your own sexual gratification take photographs of their genital and private areas."

O'Sullivan had attempted to upskirt another unknown woman on the same night.

Ms Merrin described O'Sullivan's "voyeuristic acts" as blatant and brazen and said he had looked for opportunities to take photos.

Police later found he had reset his phone to attempt to delete evidence, but some previous upskirting images were found.

O'Sullivan's lawyer said he had suffered stress from exposure to child pornography and watching "killing videos" showing excessive violence while a Customs officer.

But the court was told he and other Border Force officers had to see a psychologist every month for a wellness check, but he had not expressed his concerns.

O'Sullivan, who has moved to NSW with his wife, was sentenced to five months in jail, wholly suspended for 18 months.