The crew of a police helicopter used the aircraft to film people sunbathing naked, naturists on a campsite and even a couple having sex in their garden as they “brazenly put on a show”, a jury has been told.
Prosecutors outlined details of the South Yorkshire Police’s helicopter crew’s activities as the trial began of two police officers and two pilots at Sheffield Crown Court on Tuesday.
Richard Wright QC, prosecuting, told a jury: “They used the unique viewing position afforded to them, together with the powerful video camera with which the helicopter is equipped, to video members of the public engaged in private activities in a gross violation of their privacy.
“On three separate occasions they filmed a total of five people sunbathing naked in private and, on another occasion, they filmed a couple having sexual intercourse in their own garden.”
As Wright opened the case for the prosecution, the jury was shown graphic footage, shot from the helicopter, of a couple having sex on the patio of their suburban house.
The eight minute long film features a naked woman – who waves at the aircraft at one point – and a man wearing only a Manchester United football shirt. The pair are engaging in a range of sex acts and sexual positions.
Playing the footage, Wright said: “As you will see in a moment, the couple who were filmed on this occasion were very much aware that they were being observed, indeed they seem to relish it.”
The prosecutor explained how the couple featured were friends of Adrian Pogmore, 50, a police officer and an air observer on the helicopter, who has pleaded guilty to offences of misconduct in a public office.
The four men on trial - Matthew Lucas, 42, Lee Walls, 47, Matthew Loosemore, 45, and Malcolm Reeves, 64 - all deny the same offence.
Wright told the jury: “The reason that this couple are so happy to be recorded engaging in sexual intercourse is that they are friends of Mr Pogmore and shared his sexual interest in the swinging scene.
“It was clearly, therefore, no coincidence that the helicopter orbits around their garden while they brazenly put on a show.”
The prosecutor said: “You may hope that the police helicopter is chasing down criminals and keeping the community safe.
“You may never imagine that in fact it is being used to film a pair of swingers in the throes of sexual passion for the entertainment of the crew.”
Continuing his opening of the case, Wright said: “How then does the prosecution say that we can prove that these recordings are not simply the product of one swinging and sex-obsessed air observer, Adrian Pogmore, but were made with the connivance of the other members of the crew?”
Pogmore, of Guilthwaite Crescent, Whiston, Rotherham, has admitted four charges of misconduct in a public office.
Wright said the other four men deny the charges and, “in short”, blame Pogmore for what happened. They each face between one and three counts.
Wright said the incident involving the couple having sex on the patio happened on 28 July 2008 when the aircraft was piloted by Loosemore, with Pogmore and Lucas as the observers.
Earlier on the same day, the helicopter was used to film a couple sitting naked by a caravan on a campsite used by naturists, also in South Yorkshire.
The prosecutor said: “Although naturists expect to be seen naked by other naturists, they do not expect to be monitored by the crew of the police helicopter.”
The jury was shown the video recording of the naturists shot from the helicopter as well as two more recordings of people sunbathing naked.
Footage shot on 23 August 2007 - when the pilot was Reeves and the observers were Pogmore and Walls - appeared to involve the aircraft circling a garden where a woman was sunbathing without clothes on a lawn.
Wright said the woman was with two daughters - aged 18 and 15 - who were wearing bikinis and an eight-year-old daughter, who appeared to be fully clothed in the footage.
The prosecutor said: “There is self-evidently no legitimate policing purpose connected to orbiting her home and using equipment to film her naked body.”
Wright said the final incident - again featuring people sunbathing naked - was on 22 July 2012, when the aircraft was piloted by Reeves, with Lucas and Pogmore as observers.
The prosecutor said that in the cases of all four recordings there was “no legitimate police purpose” for flying over the homes.
Wright said: “This was a deliberate invasion of their privacy for, at the very least, the inappropriate amusement of the crew and, at worst, for their sexual gratification.”
He said that it was also a “gross waste of valuable resource”.
The prosecutor told the jury that it may hear attempts to trivialise what happened as “isolated incidents of laddish conduct” but he said the people who were filmed did not see it that way.
Wright said the prosecution stemmed from recordings found in Pogmore’s possession at a police station in 2015 and that he was the only person present on all four flights mentioned in the charges.
The trial, which started on Tuesday, is expected to last three weeks.
Statements were read to the jury from the people filmed in three of the four incidents, who all said they thought their privacy had been invaded.
The couple filmed having sex on the patio did not make a statement to police, Wright told the jury.
The woman who was filmed sunbathing with her daughters said in her statement that, at the time, she was living in a very private house with a 7ft high gate and surrounded by trees, some of which are 100ft high.
She said she felt the filming was “a complete and utter violation of my privacy”. She added: “It makes me feel sick to think that this took place.”