December 2006

Child porn shame of health boss

A HEALTH service manager whodownloaded and distributed child porn on a works computer has been jailed for 18 months.

Married father-of-three James Kerr, 58, of Salus Street, off Briercliffe Road, Burnley, swapped images of youngsters being seriously abused with other perverts via email, passing himself off as a 17-year-old girl, the town’s crown court heard.

Kerr, then working as operations manager for the GPs’ out-of-hours service at Burnley and Pendle Primary Care Centre in Browhead Road, Burnley, was caught by a colleague.

Kerr, who often used the colleague’s computer, had not logged out of his email account properly on her system.

Therefore when she went onto her system, the colleague was confronted with images which were said to be of the most serious type of child sex abuse.

She also noticed the name Anna Wallace, claiming to be a 17-year-old from Liverpool, cropping up.

The court was told that Kerr masqueraded as the 17-year-old girl so he could send the images and claim they were of her.

After the shocking find, the colleague alerted fellow staff. Police were called and Kerr, a former soldier, handed over 26 floppy discs of similar images.

Kerr, who had no previous convictions, admitted 21 counts of making an indecent photo of a child, four charges of distributing an indecent photo of a child and asked for 52 offences to be considered.

The court was told his “planned and sophisticated” conduct fuelled the demand for the pictures and probation officers warned he poses a medium risk of harm to children and of doing it again.

Kerr was said not to be able to explain his conduct which he claimed began as curiosity but became a compulsion.

Sentencing, Judge Barbara Watson said it was an “absolute tragedy” to see Kerr in the dock, having lost everything he had worked for and now facing carrying a “grave conviction” for the rest of his life.

The judge, who had had to view the images, said no right-thinking person could feel anything other than “dismay, disgust and concern” for the children portrayed in them.

She told Kerr: “For you, however, they seemed to have provided some sort of sexual stimulation.

“In my judgement, it beggars belief that any right-thinking person could be curious about child pornography.”

Kerr was also banned from working with children and made the subject of a Sex Offences Prevention Order, prohibiting him from having a computer at home, or at work, unless supervised.

He is not allowed to use the internet at work unless under supervision and must not have any contact with children under 18 except with their parent or guardian.

Kerr was ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register.

Martin Hackett, defending, said “up until now” Kerr’s wife was standing by him.

Mr Hackett said the images became a compulsion for the defendant.

Kerr had started to attend church and was going for counselling sessions to try to understand why he did it, Mr Hackett said.

A spokesman for the East Lancashire Primary Care Trust (PCT) said Kerr said: “We can confirm he was the operations manager for the GPs’ out-of-hours service at Burnley and Pendle Primary Care Centre. As such he was never employed directly by us..”