Man gets 15 days for masturbating at Zellers

Published on May 15, 2012
Scales of justice

A 51-year-old Charlottetown man has been sentenced to 15 days in the provincial correctional centre after being found guilty of indecent exposure at Zellers department store.

Blair Howard Snow will serve his sentence on an intermittent basis on consecutive weekends.

Provincial Court Judge Nancy Orr also placed Snow on probation for 18 months, during which time he must write a letter of apology to the management of Zellers.

He has been banned from the store for the duration of his probation.

The charge against Snow dates back to April 4, 2009 and was laid after a store security officer discovered the accused masturbating in a cubicle in the men's room of the busy department store.

Testimony presented at trial indicated the security officer had been alerted to the fact a man had been in the men's room for what seemed like an inordinate length of time.

When he entered the washroom he noted that one of the cubicles was occupied.

He heard noises coming from the cubicle that suggested the man might be masturbating.

Acting on his suspicions the security officer knocked on the door of the cubicle.

He told the court that Snow stood up and opened the door of the cubicle.

Snow had one hand wrapped around his penis, the officer stated.

With the other hand he gestured to the officer, who was dressed in jeans and a hoodie, to join him in the cubicle.

Instead the officer told Snow to get dressed and to accompany him to the security office because he was being charged with indecent exposure.

Testifying in his own defence Snow denied that he was engaged in any such activity.

He told the court he had gone to the washroom to answer the call of nature.

He said he was having a bowel movement when he heard a knock on the cubicle door.

Snow told the court the man identified himself as a private investigator.

Believing the man may have been looking for someone for shoplifting or using drugs Snow said he leaned forward and opened the door a little to show there was nothing going on.

He said the man didn't look like a private investigator so he closed the door.

Snow testified he didn't know what he'd been charged with until he got to the security officer's office.

Orr said she believed the testimony of the security officer but found the version of events advanced by Snow to be illogical.

"It makes no sense," Orr said. "It could not reasonably be true."

She said Snow did not react the way most people would react if someone knocked on the door of their cubicle.

Most people, it was suggested, would at the very least have made themselves presentable before opening the door.

Speaking to sentence Crown Prosecutor Gerald Quinn said a short, sharp sentence was needed to send a message to Snow and anyone else who might contemplate committing an offence like this that it was not acceptable.

"Take this type of business elsewhere," Quinn said of Snow's actions.

Orr said what people do in their own homes is their own business but that this type of conduct has no place in a public washroom.

She noted this took place in a public washroom adjacent to a family restaurant in a busy department store.

''Unsuspecting children or adults could have walked into this washroom and seen this," Orr said.