Eddie Catz Founder Gets Sixteen Months For Voyeurism Offences

Darren Johnson made peepholes to spy on girls and women

Darren Johnson, the Putney based founder of the Eddie Catz chain of children’s play centres, which has a branch in Colliers Wood, has this Wednesday (29 August) been given a sixteen month jail term after pleading guilty to charges of voyeurism.

On 5 June last year he filmed two 14-year-old girls getting changed in a cubicle in Putney Leisure Centre while they were attending a school swimming class. They saw an iPhone being pointed at them under the door of the cubicle. Later Johnson was seen on CCTV at the leisure centre with his iPhone.

Afterwards it was discovered following a police search of his home and computer that he had created peepholes in lavatories at the centre and taken images of women and girls using them. Kingston Crown Court heard that he had also created peepholes in the Earlsfield branch of Eddie Catz.

Darren Johnson

The 51-year-old (pictured above) admitted to five counts of the offence in addition to taking over 700 video clips of female staff and young girls secretly filmed at various branches of Eddie Catz and at Putney Leisure Centre.

At Kingston Crown Court Judge Andrew Campbell said: 'These were dreadful offences because first of all some of them involved children, at the Putney Leisure Centre and almost inevitably at the premises of Eddie Catz.

'Secondly, the number of adult women that you recorded - no one can give a figure as to how many there were but there must have been not less than 30 or 40 and probably many more.

'Thirdly, the extraordinary breach of trust at Eddie Catz. You were making images of women who you were employing and you were making images of mothers and children who trusted you when they were using your play facilities at Eddie Catz.

'Any woman or child who knows they have been recorded by you or may have been recorded by you is bound to be deeply upset because of what you have done. All these offences were committed at different times and in more than one location.'

Mr Johnson defence lawyer Tom Williams, told the court that his client had a problem with alcohol and that he had been drinking after an argument with his wife before he filmed the girls at Putney Leisure Centre on June 5th 2017.

He said: 'This is somebody who does recognise that he has had a serious issue. He and his wife have two children, both of them had to receive therapy since all of this came out. He accepts what he did was completely wrong and now he has been able to think through in a way that makes some sense he is thoroughly sorry for what he has done.'

Detective Constable Nayeff Al-Wareeth, from the Met’s South West Command, said: “I hope this sentencing result brings some measure of comfort for the two young girls who bravely came forward and reported Johnson to us. This conviction would not have been possible without their courage. We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that criminals like Johnson are off our streets and behind bars."

Mr Johnson resigned as Director of Eddie Catz in September 2017 after he was arrested and is separated from his wife. A spokesperson for the company told this website: “Eddie Catz severed all ties with Mr Johnson more than one year ago when allegations about his behaviour came to light. He has no association with the business.”

Johnson opened the first branch of Eddie Catz in Putney in 2005 with his wife. The chain now has nine branches across the country. The Eddie Catz Wimbledon branch opened in Station Road, Colliers Wood, in 2008.

August 30, 2018