SAFEGUARDING measures are being reviewed after a senior official in the Education Department who downloaded hundreds of indecent images of children was jailed for 15 weeks.
David Gerald Berry (60), who served as head of school improvement, was sentenced at the Magistrate’s Court on Friday after admitting the charge at an earlier appearance.
Berry was also given a five-year restraining order and placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years.
The 357 indecent images comprised 353 still images and four videos and belonged in category C – the least severe classification.
After being alerted by an external agency, the States police went to Berry’s home at 6.30am on 13 October and seized a laptop computer and mobile phone, which both contained indecent images of girls in their early teens and younger. The four moving images were among those found on his phone.
Berry was interviewed by the police, with Advocate Luke Sette, prosecuting, saying: ‘He denied having any sexual interest in children.
‘He was asked if he had ever viewed indecent images of children and he replied: “No comment.”’
Advocate Sarah Dale, defending, argued for a sentence of six months or less.
She accepted there had been a high number of images but said: ‘There are cases where the court comes across thousands of images.’
And she argued that Berry’s former education post was irrelevant, pointing out: ‘It is not something that has previously been treated as an aggravating factor.’
He had pleaded guilty and Advocate Dale added: ‘Mr Berry is otherwise a man of good character.’
At his initial court appearance, Berry said he would rather go to prison than carry out a community service order, so the advocate asked for ‘a short period of custody’.
Passing sentence, Assistant Magistrate Peter Harris said that owing to the high number of images the offence did ‘cross the custodial threshold’.
He added: ‘There’s also evidence of search terms that show intent to find unlawful images.’
And he did not give Berry credit for his guilty plea, saying: ‘In the circumstances, you had little option but to plead guilty.’
After the sentencing, Children’s and Education Minister Inna Gardiner said: ‘I know news that a member of the Education Department has pleaded guilty to, and been charged with, an offence involving indecent images of children is a shock to many.
‘We have significant measures in place to safeguard children and young people in schools. However, in the light of this case, we are reviewing the safeguarding measures we have in place, including reviewing which staff are required to undertake enhanced DBS checks.’
She added: ‘Once more, I’d like to reassure Islanders that we have no evidence that children in Jersey were involved in this case. We also know that the individual involved did not have direct contact with children as part of his job.’
She said that anyone who was concerned about the safety or wellbeing of a child should contact the Children and Families Hub on 519000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The States police said that anyone who had concerns about suspected child sexual abuse or exploitation could contact the Public Protection Unit at Police Headquarters via 612612.
The sexual assault referral centre Dewberry House can be contacted on 888222