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'Gymnastics enthusiast' jailed over indecent images of children

'Gymnastics enthusiast' jailed over indecent images of children

Saturday 30 March 2019

'Gymnastics enthusiast' jailed over indecent images of children


A 55-year-old man with an "interest" in children’s gymnastics has been jailed for 20 months after Police found over 400 indecent images of children on his computers.

Paul Michael Berry admitted two charges of possessing indecent images and appeared in the Royal Court yesterday for his sentencing.

The Court heard that on 23 May 2018 police officers searched Berry’s house in St. Lawrence with a warrant. Berry reportedly started to panic after officers told him the warrant related to indecent images of children and that they would be searching for electronic devices. 

Officers seized a total of 28 devices in Berry’s home, including a tower computer, two laptops, several tablets and numerous hard drives and storage devices, which were submitted to the Hi-Tech Crime Unit for forensic examination.

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Pictured: Police officers seized a total of 28 devices from Berry's home.

Berry told officers no one else had access to the devices and admitted he expected “a number of low-level images” to be found on his computer.

A total of 403 indecent images were found – the majority of which were on the lowest level. An analyst said most of them showed children under the age of ten.

Over 300 images of children’s leotards and young females wearing leotards were also recovered, as well as 200 photographs “suspected” to show children but with no clear age-defining features.

Crown Advocate Matthew Maletroit told Court: “Recovered internet activity and photographs suggest (Berry) has an interest in children’s gymnastics and images of children in leotards.”

The Court heard that during the search an anti-forensics programme, designed to erase files as well as evidence of system and internet activity beyond forensic recovery, was found running on Berry’s computer. It had just completed wiping over 17GB of data, including recent activity logs, temporary internet files and internet browsing history records.

“There is evidence that the programme had been used historically to wipe tens of thousands of unknown files,” the Crown Advocate said.

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Pictured: An application that allows users to access websites hosted on the DarkNet was found on Berry's computer.

Officers also found an application which allows users to anonymously access websites hosted on the DarkNet. The Court heard that Berry had used it to access paedophilic websites and download material from them, although the files had been subsequently deleted. 

The Crown Advocate said there was no evidence that Berry had distributed any of the images.

Berry admitted to a psychiatrist he had a sexual interest in teenage girls, but denied being interested in children. He confessed he was glad he had been caught as “he wouldn’t have been able to stop his activity on his own".

The Crown Advocate suggested a total sentence of 21 months, taking into account Berry’s cooperation throughout the investigation and his guilty pleas.

He also suggested that Berry stay on the Sex Offenders Register for five years, as well as a five-year restraining order restricting Berry’s use of electronic devices and the internet.

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Pictured: Advocate David Steenson was defending Berry.

Berry’s lawyer, Advocate David Steenson, described the case as “rather tragic” as it market the “loss of good character of a 55-year-old man," adding Berry had experienced an “enormous cultural shock” in prison.

“There can be no doubt that Mr Berry has a real deep sense of shame and regret,” he told Court, explaining that Berry’s “genuine and deep-felt remorse and shame” had led Berry to become suicidal.

Advocate Steenson pointed out there had been a “slight delay” in the court proceedings, which meant that instead of spending his time “productively” in jail “addressing his electronic vices”, Berry had remained on bail.

“The Court should not read anything sinister in the fact he had a cleaning program,” Advocate Steenson continued. He explained that Berry was an electrical engineer with a “vast amount of data on his computers” and that he would regularly use the program, even before he had the indecent material on his machine. 

Advocate Steenson also gave the Court a number of letter of references from Berry’s family and friends, adding that Berry would “stop at nothing to not let these people down” and “would not be back before this Court.”

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Pictured: Berry was sentenced to 20 months in prison. 

Royal Court Commissioner Julian Clyde-Smith, who was sitting with Jurats Elizabeth Dulake and Jerry Ramsden, acknowledged the “very powerful mitigation” presented by the lawyer.

He added, however, that the difficult consequences Berry faced “might serve as a warning to those who might consider accessing that type of material.” 

The Commissioner subsequently sentenced Berry to 20 months in prison, and made the orders requested by the Crown Advocate. 

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