Man blames nervous 'twitch' for taking up-skirt photos of women
A PhD student accused of using his mobile phone to take lewd pictures up women's skirts at a wedding reception in the UK, has blamed a nervous "twitch" for his behaviour.
Californian Collin Lieberg, 34, was allegedly spotted by guests and caught on CCTV footage at the Oyster Shed pub near London Bridge leaning in towards girls in short summer dresses and angling his phone under the hemlines.
In his defence, the Warwick University student told jurors he only used his mobile that night to check scores on a sports app, browse Facebook and Twitter, message his wife and "possibly play a game or two".
And his awkward physical movements shown on the CCTV were put down to a habitual twitch or tic which is made worse by alcohol.
When the best man Leo Steele confronted him, Lieberg told the Old Bailey he was shocked at the allegation and found him "very confrontational".
Mr Steele has previously given evidence that when asked directly if he had taken photos up women's skirts, Lieberg had told him "possibly".
And before handing over his phone for inspection, he had done more than unlock it, Mr Steele had said.
But the defendant denied it, saying his recollection of the exchange was that he had told the Canterbury Tales theatre producer that he did not know "how to respond".
He told jurors: "It's not something you get accused of every day. You don't know how to respond to these things. It just seems a shocking allegation."
"I think he said if I don't stop twitching he would call the police. He did not appreciate it. He did not like it."
He added that the best man had also told him he might throw him in a river and he found the whole conversation "very confrontational".
The court heard how Lieberg had married in 2011, the same year he left the United States so he could study for a PhD in history at Warwick University.
He had taken on a part-time job at the HMV music store in Shrewsbury while his wife Courtney works in a Waterstones bookshop, the court heard.
On the evening of the alleged obscene behaviour, the couple had been among 140 guests at the wedding reception in London, having been invited by the bride Hannah, who was also doing a history PhD at the same university.
Describing himself and his wife as "socially awkward", he said he had drunk up to nine glasses of wine during the evening making him progressively more drunk.
Alcohol affected the nervous tic had had suffered from for the past 10 years, making his arms, legs and sometimes whole body twitch, he said.
His lawyer Hugh Forgan asked him what he was doing in one clip of CCTV taken as guests were milling on the dance floor waiting for the bride and groom's first dance.
Lieberg said: "Twitching, possibly stretching my arms. It looks like I was looking around for someone I know."
Mr Forgan asked: "Had you taken any photos at all at the reception?"
The defendant replied: "Not that I recall."
Jurors at the Old Bailey have heard that no pictures from the wedding have been recovered from Lieberg's mobile handset.
Lieberg of Hills Lane, Shrewsbury, denies the charge of outraging public decency on July 26 last year by committing an "act of lewd, obscene and disgusting nature" by taking or attempting to take pictures with his mobile phone.