A still from the video showing Paul Endicott setting the camera on his mobile phone to record before he covertly filmed his wife naked without her consent. Photo / Supplied
WARNING: This story deals with pornography and may be distressing.
When a wife discovered her husband of 30 years hid a camera and filmed her naked in their home, her disbelief turned to anxiety, disgust and anger. But Ngaire Endicott is not alone in falling victim to homemade pornography as statistics reveal the crime of making an intimate visual recording has increased as technology has improved. Open Justice reporter Natalie Akoorie investigates.
It was an odd, sort of out-of-place and unexpected video that Ngaire Endicott stumbled across on her husband’s phone in the middle of the night.
The 62-year-old Bay of Plenty woman couldn’t sleep so she got up and went to the kitchen as Paul Henry Robert Endicott slept in their bed.
She’d been asking Endicott to text her some old photographs of their house that they were renovating but he hadn’t, so she picked up his phone and scrolled through the photo library.
Among the photos was the thumbnail of a video that “just didn’t seem right” so Ngaire clicked on it.
“I just watched in disbelief. I think you know that there’s something wrong when you can see him setting the video up.”
The recording showed Endicott, 58, in his work uniform, filming himself as he positioned the mobile phone to overlook the couple’s bedroom.
Because the room was under renovation, Endicott was able to tuck the phone inconspicuously into wall framing.
He placed a disk case in front to obscure the mobile, left the camera recording and disappeared from view.
Moments later Ngaire walked into the room, wrapped in a towel, having just showered.
She removed the towel, dried her naked body in full view of the silently recording camera, and put clothes on.
Sitting in the dark that night staring at the video, Ngaire tried to comprehend what she’d found.
“I was absolutely shocked. Oh my God, like why? Why would you do that?”
She put the phone down. She needed time to process what she’d seen. It dawned on her, this might not be new behaviour by her husband of almost 30 years.
Events throughout their marriage began to make sense and a feeling of dread rose.
She deleted the minutes-long video but not before filming a copy onto her own phone.
The next night, in August 2022, Ngaire confronted Endicott.
“I said to him he had to leave.”
Endicott offered no excuses or denials. At one point, he even said he did it because he loved her.
After he moved out, Ngaire rang a support line and a support worker notified police.
Police brought a prosecution against Endicott, charging him with making an intimate visual recording.
And then another bombshell.
“What I didn’t know, and never knew, is that he had been charged and convicted of a sexual-related crime in 1984,” Ngaire said.
She felt as if her whole marriage had been built on a lie.
Intimate visual recordings trending up
According to Ministry of Justice statistics, the number of people convicted of making an intimate visual recording jumped from 75 in 2013/2014 to 225 the following year.
Between 2013 and 2023, there were 1275 convictions for making an intimate visual recording, a further 507 prosecutions were “not proved” and 122 were listed as “other proved”.
Psychologist Nate Gaunt said intimate visual recordings were becoming more common as people had better access to technology to make the recordings.
Covert filming was a particular paraphilia that some people had, Gaunt said.
In his experience there were two types of perpetrators: those who had an interest in “this kind of homemade pornography and who have an interest in this kind of offending itself, being thrilling in some way”.
But he said there were also people who “make a very dumb decision in a short space of time”.
“A lot of people don’t think it all the way through and they don’t realise they are creating a record of something that causes ongoing damage and they can lose control of.”
Gaunt, who works with sexual offenders, said regardless of the motivation, making an intimate visual recording of a partner was a “massive breach and offensive in many ways”.
“It has very serious consequences and a lot of people really struggle to move on from that. It causes huge fallout.
“Most relationships I’ve worked with don’t survive. They can do, there’s always hope, but a lot of people would struggle to regain trust after that.
“That’s just in the recording itself, never mind what they are going to do with it or where it’s going to go or who they’re going to share it with.”
He said it was not just happening in a couples’ context but also with children, teenagers and strangers.
‘Absolute disbelief’, anxiety and aftermath
Paul Endicott eventually pleaded guilty to his crime and during his sentencing at the Tauranga District Court in September, Ngaire described how she struggled with the reality her husband filmed her naked without her knowledge.
“It made me feel very sad, numb, and ashamed. I was horrified that the person I loved and trusted would lower me to this level,” she said in her victim impact statement.
“This was not a stranger. This was my husband who had no reason to do this other than to satisfy his own sickness.”
Ngaire said she had completely lost her self-worth.
“I have panic attacks when I think of people viewing the recording of me.
“It took many months of a roller coaster of feelings of shame, humiliation, sadness and frustration to be able to allow the police and whoever else to view this recording. That alone has been so traumatic.”
Ngaire withdrew from people. She found it difficult to tell anyone other than a counsellor.
“It took me months to say it out loud. When I found the recording, it confirmed the suspicions I had pushed aside after seeing a few photos of myself on Paul’s phone over the years,” she told the court.
“I had confronted him about other strange events during our marriage but he manipulated me into staying with him.”
Back then, she so desperately wanted to believe Endicott, not least because they had children together, that she brushed aside another photo of her in an intimate situation as being accidental.
“I had been in denial for so long that he would do this type of thing to me.
“Knowing that this was ongoing, planned-out behaviour has heightened the feelings of hopelessness and shame.”
Ngaire still checks for hidden cameras in her house despite Endicott being gone. She is uncomfortable having a shower and does not feel safe in her own home.
“I cannot go into a public changing room, swimming pools or gyms or anywhere that I think a camera could be hidden. I had a panic attack when I had to get changed for an MRI.”
Ngaire believed Endicott was not remorseful for his actions which “added to the absolute dark hole” her life had become.
“He stated to me that I would not have minded him doing this if I was young and slim. I felt worthless.
“Paul has taken away my trust in men and my joy of going out. He has taken away my happiness…”
She now used sleeping pills and anxiety medication and at times could not manage work.
Ngaire told Judge Stephen Coyle she did not want Endicott’s name suppressed because she believed he had “normalised” his behaviour and would not change.
“I fear for women that he may meet, that he will groom them and manipulate them as he did to me.
“I would never have believed my husband, my life partner, could treat me as an object for him and others to view purely to satisfy himself and have no empathy or thought on how this may affect me, his wife.”
She asked for a custodial sentence.
What the judge told the offender
Judge Coyle said it was clear that, for Ngaire, Endicott’s actions had been devastating.
“I hope you, in listening today to what your wife said, were able to comprehend in some way the devastation and destruction that you caused because of your actions, which can only have been centred in your own self-gratification,” Judge Coyle said at Endicott’s September 6, 2023 sentencing.
“It was an appalling breach of trust. As she put it in her victim impact statement, yours was a lengthy marriage and yet you breached probably one of the biggest strengths and factors in an intimate relationship and that is mutual trust and respect of each other.”
The judge considered Ngaire’s suspicion it was not the first time Endicott had engaged in such behaviour and that he might have shared the images, but said he could only sentence the defendant on the facts before him and those allegations were not reflected in the charges.
However, the judge said he was concerned that Endicott had a conviction of a “sexual nature” in 1984 at the age of 19, and “now you do again”.
He did not elaborate on the conviction and neither did police in their summary of facts.
Judge Coyle said while Endicott’s lawyer and the probation report writer noted the defendant’s remorse and empathy, he didn’t see anything to demonstrate that “apart from the fact you have been caught”.
“I watched you while your former wife gave her victim impact statement and it concerned me that there did not appear to be a flicker of understanding, empathy or emotion from you as you listened to her.”
He noted “with concern” Endicott’s comments that if Ngaire was “young and slim” she would not have minded.
“What part, Mr Endicott, do you not get that for anyone being filmed naked without their knowledge is unacceptable, humiliating and demeaning?
“What part do you not get of the effect on your wife of trivialising her feelings and emotion and her distress which occurred by saying that if she looked different she would be up for it?
“This is nothing more than victim-blaming and trying to deflect responsibility from you and off you.”
Judge Coyle said he was unable to send Endicott to prison because the Sentencing Act required him to impose the least restrictive sentence that reflected the offending, was consistent with other sentences, and recognised his personal circumstances.
“The Sentencing Act specifically refers to a hierarchy of sentencing and contrary to the expectation of a lot of people, including politicians, it is actually very difficult to send someone to jail, particularly where it is a first offence for any type of offending.”
He said Endicott’s offending was not unsophisticated and untargeted.
“It was clearly thought out by you as to how to do it in a surreptitious manner and a way in which your wife would not be aware of what you were doing.”
He disagreed with Endicott’s lawyer that community work was not warranted.
“In order to meet the principles of denunciation and deterrence and to sheet home to you your need to be accountable and responsible for your offending a punitive aspect of community work needs to be imposed.”
The judge noted the defence lawyer’s submission that community work would be difficult for Endicott because of his job.
“As I have said before in court, Mr Endicott, stealing from Forrest Gump, sentencing is not like a box of chocolates where you can pick out the bits you want, the bits you like, and not eat the ones you do not like.
“The sentence that I impose needs to be done by you and if it is inconvenient for you then so be it. That is the whole point of a sentence. It is not to accommodate your life.
“It is to reflect the culpability of your offending and an appropriate response in terms of your offending.”
He gave Endicott full credit for his guilty plea, convicted him and sentenced him to 175 hours of community work.
In dismissing Endicott’s name suppression, Judge Coyle said the restriction on reporting his name was for the benefit of Ngaire but Ngaire told the judge she did not seek suppression of her own name.
“I have challenged her on that because if your name is published, given that you were married, people will put two and two together as it were.
“But her response to that is that it is not her shame, it is yours, and that it should be known within the community that you committed this offence, and I see some benefit to that in terms of ensuring that others in the community, particularly women, know of this offending.”
Life after betrayal
Ngaire now faces life with a mortgage and a half-renovated house after having to buy out Endicott from their home.
She’s worried about affording retirement and said she’d worked hard to be freehold before meeting Endicott when she was 30 and he was 26.
Nate Gaunt said it was hard to know the motive behind the making of an intimate visual recording and almost as difficult to know what signs and behaviour to look out for if a spouse had concerns or suspicions that intimate visual recordings were being made.
“If you think your partner is doing something dodgy in an area where you would be undressed like in a bathroom or a bedroom, or you notice any technology lying around, you should have a quick look.”
A partner who was being secretive about their phone could be a red flag for many things, not just covert recordings, he said.
If a spouse found their partner had made an intimate visual recording, safety was imperative, Gaunt said.
“They should talk to someone they trust. It could be their lawyer, or the police or a sexual abuse service.”
Victims and perpetrators should know they can get help.
Natalie Akoorie is the Open Justice deputy editor, based in Waikato and covering crime and justice nationally. Natalie first joined the Herald in 2011 and has been a journalist in New Zealand and overseas for 28 years, recently covering health, social issues, local government, and the regions.