August 2009

Bristol hospital worker jailed over child porn

By day he helped in the battle against child cancer – but at night he exploited children by downloading sick images of youngsters being sexually abused.

David Kearley was studying in Bristol to be an epidemiologist but became obsessed with child pornography.

When police examined his computer, they found thousands of pictures and videos of children being abused.

Today, he is beginning a 10-month sentence behind bars, his promising career in ruins and his reputation destroyed.

Kearley, 34, was working at Bristol Children’s Hospital collating data on the spread of childhood cancer.

But detectives in Spain discovered a paedophile had sent indecent pictures of youngsters to him.

Bristol Crown Court heard that, initially, Kearley willingly handed over his laptop computer and only confessed after police managed to detect his sordid collection.

The 34-year-old, of Hedgers Close, Ashton, pleaded guilty to 22 charges of making indecent photographs of children and a single count of possessing indecent photographs of children.

Kerry Barker, prosecuting, told the court Spanish police who arrested a man suspected of child abuse discovered he had made abuse videos and distributed them across a private network.

He said: “That enabled Spanish police to discover the recipients, and that led them to this country and Mr Kearley.”

Mr Barker said when police visited Kearley’s home he was pleasant and fully cooperative, the court heard, telling police to take his laptop because nothing improper would be on it.

When police used special software and discovered the photos, Kearley initially denied all knowledge of them, saying he had got the reconditioned computer in 2005 from the University of Bristol.

Mr Barker said: “He accepted he was the main user, and since November 2005 he had been working at Bristol Children’s Hospital and had had Criminal Records Bureau checks.”

The court heard police established Kearley had used sophisticated computer software to scan the internet with German search terms, rather than use standard search engines such as Google.

In a second interview he made full admissions, saying he had a problem and needed help.

The court heard Kearley, a man of previous good character, was suspended and then resigned from his job and had attended a course hoping to deal with his issues.

Jailing him for 10 months, Judge Neil Ford QC told him: “This has undoubtedly wrecked your life. You were working for professional qualifications, undertaking a university course, and all that has been lost to you.

“It is to your credit you have acknowledged your problem.”

The judge forfeited Kearley’s computer and handed him a Sexual Offences Prevention Order designed to keep him clear of children.

Kearley was disqualified from working with children and was ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register.

Daniel Woodman, defending, told the court his client had to deal with a difficult recent past involving the ill health and death of his parents as well as the break-up of a relationship.

He said: “In 2005/2006 he began accessing child pornography. He described it as a means of escape which he resorted to in times of stress.”

Mr Woodman stressed Kearley had worked for Bristol University, based at Bristol Children’s Hospital, in an information collating role rather than having direct access to youngsters.