A man accused of “stalking” children at a major Gold Coast shopping centre and watching them in the bathroom has been granted bail.
A man accused of “stalking” children at a major Gold Coast shopping centre and watching them in the bathroom has been granted bail.

Man charged with ‘stalking’ children at shopping centre

A MAN accused of "stalking" children at a Gold Coast shopping centre and watching them in the bathroom has been granted bail, with his lawyer saying the current police evidence does not support the charges.

Michael Edward Clarke appeared in Southport Magistrates Court on Friday via videolink charged with eight counts of unlawful stalking and observations or recordings in breach of privacy - genital or anal region.

The offences are alleged to have happened at Robina Town Centre on a day in September and on October 5.

The court heard police allege Clarke followed children to toilets and that he was "behaving in a predatory manner".

His solicitor, Lisa Searing, of Allen & Searing Criminal Lawyers, said she viewed footage from the shopping centre which showed her client along with "hundreds of other people".

"It's not clear from that footage that he's following anyone in particular," she said.

The man’s lawyer submitted the case wasn’t as strong as first thought.
The man’s lawyer submitted the case wasn’t as strong as first thought.

Ms Searing said she was yet to receive a summary of what police said was the behaviour in the footage to "substantiate the charges".

She submitted the case wasn't as strong as first thought.

 

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Ms Searing said the only police statement was from a father of a boy in a bathroom.

"At the highest level he glanced over his right shoulder and saw a guy staring across near the boys going to the toilet," she said.

"Now that would seem that he's (the client) behind the witness and the boys, which means their backs would have been to him.

"The charges seem to indicate that he is observing far more than their backs, and I would submit that based on that witness statement ... that certainly doesn't seem to be the case.

"In the witness's own words he glanced back over his shoulder to see the defendant looking in their direction, and I would submit that simply isn't enough to support these charges."

Ms Searing said her client didn't dispute being at the shopping centre.

"There were a lot of people around, he was wandering around. At some stage, he ate, had a drink. He's gone to the bathroom. He denies that he was there for any malicious purpose," she said.

 

 

 

 

 

Clarke had been in custody for four months after being denied bail initially, but was able to make another application following a change in circumstances.

The prosecution opposed bail.

Ms Searing said her client could live with his parents, abide by any conditions, and was a risk of spending too much time in custody.

Magistrate Grace Kahlert said the charges were "serious allegations that had been made which may affect the welfare of children" and were "particularly concerning".

"I note there does not seem to be any evidence at present which would support the charges before the court and I'm told the prosecution is in the process of obtaining witness statements," she said.

Clarke was granted bail and will have to live with his parents, must not visit shopping centres, and not contact witnesses.

The matter will return to court on March 4.

 

 

jacob.miley1@news.com.au

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Man charged with 'stalking' children at Coast shopping centre



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