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Man gets 18 months in jail for 2022 voyeurism offence at Sooke pool

Mark Istephan has a history of offences including attempted kidnapping and indecent acts
A man with a history of offences that includes attempted kidnapping of a minor has been sentenced in voyeurism case stemming from a 2022 incident in Sooke. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

A man with a history of offences that includes attempted kidnapping of a minor has been sentenced in voyeurism case stemming from a 2022 incident in Sooke.

Mark Istephan, who was arrested in May 2022 for attempting to watch a woman shower at SEAPARC Recreation, was sentenced to 18 months in jail for the offence, Judge Ted Gouge wrote in his decision released March 20

The 52-year-old Vancouver Island man also received three years of probation and is prohibited from any contact with victim after his release.

Istephan was convicted of voyeurism in January.

On May 4, 2022, after a swim in the pool a woman, referred to as Z. R. in court documents, was showering in a private cubicle in the gender-neutral change room at the community centre in Sooke. As she was getting dressed, she saw the shadow of a man in the next cubicle who appeared to be trying to watch her through the space between the bottom of the cubicle and the floor.

She fled to the front reception desk, police were called and Istephan was arrested. Gouge said in his decision that Z.R. was terrified by the incident and continues to suffer anxiety as a result, specifically when using public recreation facilities.

“Mr. Istephan is not a first offender, he did not plead guilty and his refusal to participate in psychological assessment and treatment is unique,” Gouge wrote. Istephan denied having concerns for his mental health and refused to participate in a pre-sentencing interview with a forensic psychologist.

“He is a repeat offender who suffers from a mental illness and refuses to participate in medical procedures for assessment and treatment of his mental illness. As a result, he poses a material risk to public safety.”

The court heard that in 2001 while he was in his early 30s, Istephan attempted to force a 13-year-old girl at a bus stop into his car.

He was convicted of attempted kidnapping and received a conditional sentence of 18 months, to be served in the community.

Istephan was convicted of committing an indecent act in a public place six years later when he was arrested for masturbating on a wharf at a lake near Victoria, which he received a 6o-day jail sentence and three years of probation for that offence.

Between 2001 and 2008, Istephan was referred to mental health specialists, who could not agree on a diagnosis.

He was convicted of breach of probation for failing to complete a sex offender counselling program in 2009, and another breach of probation in 2014 for being within 200 metres of a school.

Istephan’s defence lawyer recommended a conditional sentence to be served in the community, while Crown counsel Tanner Conway asked the judge to sentence the Istephan to 18 months in jail.

Gouge noted that in his opinion neither sentence was sufficient, and said he preferred the maximum penalty for voyeurism at a summary trial, which would amount to two years less a day in jail.

“Mr. Istephan could be detained indefinitely in a mental health facility under the provisions of the Mental Health Act,” the judge concluded. “However, those who administer the statute have been made well aware of Mr. Istephan and his condition, and have decided not to detain him, so that option for the protection of the public is not available in this case.”

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