Court finds Jamon Jamon’s ex-head chef not guilty of filming woman on toilet

Arulshandh Balendran was found not guilty. Picture: Central

Arulshandh Balendran was found not guilty. Picture: Central - Credit: CENTRAL NEWS

A former head chef has been found not guilty of filming a woman as she went to the toilet at tapas restaurant Jamon Jamon.

Jamon Jamon restaurant in Belsize Park

Jamon Jamon restaurant in Belsize Park - Credit: Archant

Arulshandh Balendran, 30, admitted balancing his phone on top of a pipe inside one of the ladies’ toilet cubicles at the Spanish bar in Haverstock Hill, Belsize Park.

But the Sri Lankan-born chef, who also did odd jobs for the business, said he was only using his phone to look inside a vent as he prepared to install a new extractor fan in the toilets just after midnight on May 31 last year.

He had left his HTC mobile there while he went to grab his toolbox, Highbury Magistrates’ Court heard on Tuesday. “I didn’t use the phone to take a video,” said Mr Balendran, who is now unemployed.

In the interim, a woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, went into the cubicle and used the toilet, the court heard.

She claimed that the phone was recording a video of her as she sat on the toilet. She only noticed it when a piece of toilet paper that had been covering the phone fell down, it was claimed.

She told the court that she reached up to grab the phone, and pushed a button to stop the video recording. “I was a bit shocked.

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“I realised somebody was filming me, and that there was a camera there. The first I did was quickly pull my trousers up,” she told magistrates through an interpreter.

When the woman confronted Mr Balendran immediately afterwards, he said “Oh my god” over and over, and tried to explain that he was fixing the fan. He told the court he then showed her the phone to prove there were no pictures or videos of her. The prosecution did not provide any evidence that photos or videos of the woman were retrieved from the phone after it was seized about a week after the allegation.

Addressing Mr Balendran, magistrate Lady Jane Grabiner told the court: “You have given us a plausible version of events. We heard from several defence witnesses that you had cleaning duties and that you were in the habit of doing DIY jobs. We think it is possible that there was an innocent explanation for your presence in the ladies toilet and for the fact your phone was in there.” The owners of Jamon Jamon, Tiho Strbac and Rajaratman Kumar, both gave evidence to say Mr Balendran was a “good handyman” and “good guy”.

Representing Mr Balendran, lawyer Kate Chanter told the court: “Not for one second do I think the complainant is lying, or being dishonest. I think she is mistaken about what she saw. We heard she went home and talked to other people, and I think this is a case of one’s mind going into overdrive, because she was understandably shocked at seeing a phone. This is a case of thinking it through and jumping to the worst case scenario.”

Mr Balendran, of Broadway, Ealing, looked relieved and shook hands with Mr Strbac after he was found not guilty of voyeurism.