A transgender biker who hid in bushes to photograph children in a park on Easter Sunday without their parents' permission was cleared of all wrongdoing today.
Towering Louise Balmforth pictured above
- who was born a man - had been charged with causing a breach of the peace by photographing the minors in Paisley's Barshaw Park last year.
She denied she'd committed a breach of the peace by "approaching children, repeatedly taking photographs of them without consent and to the fear and alarm of persons present" and went on trial over her antics at Paisley Sheriff Court.
The court heard she was in the park on Sunday, April 5, 2015, taking pictures of primary school children, who can't be named for legal reasons, playing in the park.
Balmforth ducked behind bushes and lay between mounds in the grass to photograph the youngsters, who were playing at a play park within the park, which is in the town's Glasgow Road.
Three parents took the stand to give evidence against her.
One, a Community Nurse, told the court she was scared and alarmed by Balmforth's conduct, fearing the photographs would end up "on a paedophile site."
The others said they were alarmed by Balmforth's conduct but the court heard Balmforth agreed to delete photographs containing one particular child when the child's parent asked her to.
Balmforth's solicitor, Peter Galletly, made a no case to answer submission, saying although she had taken pictures of children without getting consent from their parents, there was not enough evidence to convict her of causing a breach of the peace.
He said that, although the parents of the children had been left scared and alarmed, someone could only be guilty of a breach of the peace if there was also a serious threat of a disturbance being caused to the community at large.
And, on the strength of Galletly's argument, Sheriff Susan Sinclair acquitted Balmforth.
As she upheld his no case to answer submission and found Balmforth not guilty, she said: "The conduct has to be serious enough to cause fear and alarm to ordinary people and threaten a disturbance to the community.
"One of the witnesses saw the accused taking pictures and didn't want any pictures of her child on the accused's camera.
"She spoke to the accused who agreed to remove the child's photographs.
"She was annoyed and upset and had a great fear the photographs would end up on an unsavoury internet site.
"Taking these photographs caused fear and alarm to one witness and at least alarm to another two.
"There also has to be a reasonable apprehension of disturbance to the public present and proof of that is needed for proof of a crime having been committed.
"I'm not satisfied of that in these particular circumstances, in this particular case.
"I don't think the conduct was serious enough to threaten a public disturbance.
"This is a very narrow case.
"I uphold the submission of no case to answer."
She also warned Balmforth that she should think twice about photographing children without consent in future.
She said: "Photographing other people's children without consent is certainly best avoided."
Balmforth, of Paisley, declined to comment on the case as she left court.
Her camera and other photography equipment was seized by police officers investigating the case and held by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Servie to be used as productions in her trial, which began last year.
The equipment was later returned to her after she said she needed it to run her business - frenzycattoys.com - which she describes on her website as a range of toys which "have been created by a cat lover for cats."