Hamilton

Man charged with voyeurism, sexual assault for 6 Westdale prowling incidents: police

Investigators say all of the alleged victims were women in their 20s. Police are continuing to investigate and more charges may be pending.

Investigators say all alleged victims were women in their 20s

Hamilton police previously released this photo of an alleged prowler outside an east Mountain home in October. On Tuesday police announced 18 charges against the same man in connection with six prowling incidents in Westdale. (Hamilton Police Service)

A Hamilton man is facing voyeurism and sexual assault charges in connection with a rash of Westdale prowling incidents targeting women in their 20s that rattled the community.

Police made the arrest after connecting the string of west-end incidents to one on the East Mountain that occurred a few weeks later.

The string of six incidents started in August when a woman in the neighbourhood near McMaster University woke up to find she was being sexually assaulted by a strange man in her bedroom.

The other five incidents share similarities — including two police say happened just hours apart where women heard noises outside and in their home. The suspect fled after being discovered.

Daniel Severin, 32, was charged in early February in connection with the East Mountain incident. Then on Feb.15 police laid a series of charges against him in connection with the Westdale occurrences. Police say they are continuing to investigate other incidents in the area and more charges could be pending.

Police announced Tuesday the suspect was arrested and charged with the following:

  • Break and enter to commit sexual assault.
  • Sexual assault.
  • 4 counts of break and enter to commit voyeurism.
  • 4 counts of voyeurism.
  • 6 counts of criminal harassment.
  • Possession of child pornography.
  • Accessing child pornography.

Police say the child pornography charges are based on videos found on the man's electronic devices, but specifically state those charges are not connected to the Westdale incidents.

During a press conference Tuesday, Det. Lisa Chambers would not say whether or not police have any indication of whether or not the suspect was recording the victims of his voyeurism, citing evidence before the court.

A dozen prowling incidents were reported in the area near McMaster University near the end of the summer. The school issued a special security alert for students in September, warning them to keep their doors locked.

Police say the university's security services also increased its patrols and provided investigators with information for the case.

"When any sort of occurrences of this nature take place the community obviously is going to be on edge … and alert and fearful," explained Chambers.

DNA from east Mountain led to arrest

The detective said Severin is also a suspect in "prowling offences" on the East Mountain in October 2018. In that incident, security cameras captured images of the man who was allegedly peering at a woman through her bedroom window.

A neighbour confronted the suspect and tried to hold him until police arrived, according to investigators, but he escaped with a cut on his face.

At the time, police said the didn't believe the Mountian prowler and the person doing the same thing in Westdale were linked, but during a press conference Tuesday, Chambers said DNA at the East Mountain scene helped investigators make a connection.

"Based on the mountain incident we did a full review of the Westdale occurrences," she explained. "As a result of that Mr. Severin was elevated from a person of interest to a suspect."

Here's a breakdown of the incidents Severin has been charged in connection with:

  • Midnight - 5:30 a.m. Aug. 3, 2018: A woman wakes up to find a man in her room, sexually assaulting her. He flees from the home once he's discovered.
  • 1 a.m. - 2 a.m. Aug. 4, 2018: A woman hears noises outside, then in her home. Suspect runs, once discovered.
  • 2 a.m. - 3 a.m. Aug. 4, 2018: People confront the suspect after hearing noises in their backyard. He flees to a nearby vehicle.
  • 3 a.m. - 6 a.m. Aug. 28, 2018: A woman wakes up to noises outside her bedroom. She sees the suspect standing in the doorway. He walks away after being discovered.
  • 3 a.m. - 4 a.m. Aug. 31, 2018: A woman wakes up to an unknown suspect standing in her doorway. He walks away after being spotted.
  • 12 a.m. - 1 a.m. Sept. 7, 2018: A woman wakes up to a suspect standing in her doorway. He walks away after being discovered.
This file photo shows Hamilton police investigating a Westdale prowling incident in September 2018. (Andrew Collins)

"We know these incidences rattled the community," said Chambers. "Today's arrest is significant because it serves as a reminder that no matter how much time passes, we remain committed to public safety and making sure individuals responsible are held accountable."

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