Ex-Italian Olympic rower who took two up-skirt snaps is fined £1,800

Ex-Italian Olympic rower, 48, who took two up-skirt snaps of woman on train to Waterloo ‘for a joke’ is fined £1,800

  • Roberto Blanda took pictures up a woman’s skirt on a train from Twickenham
  • He was fined the equivalent of a week’s pay by Westminster Magistrates’ Court
  • Upskirting is now set to be added to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 in the Spring

Roberto Blanda, 48, was caught taking the two snaps on the train from Twickenham, south west London on July 19 last year 

An ex-Italian Olympic rower who took pictures up a woman’s skirt on a train to Waterloo ‘for a joke’ has been fined £1,800.

Roberto Blanda, 48, was caught taking the two snaps on the train from Twickenham, south west London on July 19 last year.

He was reported by other passengers but the woman did not go to the police, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard.

Farah Ahmed, defending Blanda, said this showed the offence did not have an impact on the victim.

But deputy District Judge Claire Evans said the woman was foreign and probably just did not understand what the other passengers were saying.

‘It was only a bit of luck on the part of your client,’ the magistrate added.

Speaking to Blanda, she said: ‘In my judgement it is a serious matter. I do not know what you were thinking.

‘Where have you been? There is a new law coming in for this specific offence.

‘I’ve seen your means and they are not inconsiderable. I am going to make a fine of one week’s pay, so £1,800.’

Upskirting – the act of taking photographs up a victim’s skirt – is set to become a criminal offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 in the spring.

Those found guilty will face up to two years in prison and, in the most serious cases, could be placed on the sex offenders register.

The move to make upskirting a criminal act hit a roadblock last year when Tory MP Sir Christopher Chope shouted ‘object’ when the draft law was raised in the Commons. 

Blanda rowed for Italy at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and then at the games in Atlanta in 1996.

He was reported by other passengers but the woman did not go to the police, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard 

After his Olympic career, he moved into business and is now the Head of Human Resources and General Services at British American Tobacco.

Robert Simpson, prosecuting, said: ‘This dates back to July 19 last year, the defendant was on a South Western train travelling from Twickenham to Waterloo.


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‘Three members of the public saw Mr Blanda taking photos underneath the skirt of a female passenger standing on the aisle.

‘He took one picture, looked at the image and then did it twice again. The images were clearly of the area between the woman’s legs.

Upskirting – the act of taking photographs up a woman’s skirt – is set to become a criminal offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 in the spring (file photo)

‘When the defendant was then seen looking at his mobile phone and swiping through the images, he was confronted by a member of the public.

‘He took off his headphones and said he was watching his tablet.’

Other passengers on the train tried to tell the woman what had happened, but she did not speak any English and left the train.

The British Transport Police were then called and boarded the train at Vauxhall.

Blanda then admitted the offence.

Tory MP Sir Christopher Chope (pictured) shouted ‘object’ when the draft law was raised in the Commons on June 15 last year. But the government later intervened and ensured the bill went through as part of its bid to eradicate sexual abuse

Mr Simpson added: ‘He gave a prepared statement in a later interview and said he did not want to cause anyone distress and that it was a joke he shared with his girlfriend.’

Mr Ahmed said: ‘At the time he took the picture he did not realise how offensive this act was.

‘It was not for any form of sexual gratification, it was a joke that took place between him and his girlfriend.

‘It clearly has got him into a lot of trouble. He reassures the court that it will never happen again.’

Blanda, of Churchill Drive, Chertsey, Surrey, admitted one charge of outraging public decency after he was caught taking photos up a woman’s skirt on a train in July 2018.

As well as the £1,800 fine Blanda will have to pay a £170 victim surcharge and £85 in costs. 

WHAT IS UPSKIRTING AND WHEN DOES IT BECOME A CRIMINAL OFFENCE?

Upskirting often sees perpetrators taking photographs or videos of a victim’s groin area from under their clothing and more often than not without that person’s knowledge.

Currently, this behaviour is being prosecuted under the offence of Outraging Public Decency. 

Barnoness Anita Gale, a member of the Lords, said: ‘Victims of upskirting will now get justice and the perpetrators will be brought to justice’

However, following concerns that potentially not all instances of ‘upskirting’ are covered by existing criminal law, the government decided to act. 

The move to make upskirting a criminal act hit a roadblock last year when Tory MP Sir Christopher Chope shouted ‘object’ when the draft law was raised in the Commons on June 15. 

Soon after, however, the government intervened and ensured the bill went through as part of its bid to eradicate sexual abuse. 

Offenders will face up to two years in prison with the most serious placed on the sex offenders register. 

A new offence will be placed under Section 67 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The changes will cover England and Wales; ‘upskirting’ is already a specific offence in Scotland. 

A summary conviction would carry a sentence of up to one year in prison and/or a fine. And a more serious offence, tried in the Crown Court, would carry a sentence of up to two years in prison. 

The law passed its final legal hurdle last month when it received its third reading in the Upper Chamber of the House of Lords. 

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